The End of the Odyssey

  Frame, Douglas. 2022. “The End of the Odyssey.” In “Poetic (Mis)quotations in Plato,” ed. Gwenda-lin Grewal. Special issue, Classics@ 22.

§0. This essay began with an invitation to participate in a conference at Vassar College in early April 2020. As the world knows, everything planned for that date was upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. The conference, organized by Gwenda-lin Grewal, was set to consider quotations and misquotations of Homer in Plato. As a Homerist rather than a Platonist I chose a subject that would allow me to think about a problematic book of the Odyssey, its last book. In Republic III, 387 A 5 Socrates cites lines 6–9 of Book 24 as one of the passages that should be excised from Homer as unfit for the ears of future guardians of the state. The passage describes the descent to Hades of the slain suitors with a simile comparing the suitors’ ghosts to gibbering bats—not an image calculated to dispel the fear of death and inculcate bravery in the ideal state. The Homeric scholia state without further comment that two Hellenistic scholars, Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace, put the end of the Odyssey at Book 23 line 296. This abrupt notice, found in two slightly different forms in the scholia, seems to mean that according to these two Hellenistic scholars the end of Book 23 and all of Book 24 were added later to an originally shorter poem. This idea has not ceased to cause controversy among Homeric scholars. In terms of my projected participation in Poughkeepsie, the question to be considered was whether what Plato found objectionable was actually by Homer, as Plato would surely have thought, or by a later continuator. My conclusion is that that passage, and the Second Nekyia as a whole, belong to the original Odyssey; the impact of this conclusion on Platonic studies will be, to say the least, not great. But I have greater ambitions with respect to Homeric studies, where the real questions about Book 24 come not at its beginning, but at its end—its final scene. My initial ideas on the subject, worked up for presentation at the conference, took only a month to prepare. I have spent more than a year since then on what has become, for me, an engaging project. Papers written for the conference that could not be delivered at the time are being published on the CHS website, and I am honored to have mine among them. [1]


§1. The last scene of the Odyssey is problematic, even for those who defend it as genuinely Homeric. [2] The battle with the relatives of the slain suitors ends as soon as it begins when Laertes, restored to youthful vigor by Athena, kills a single victim, and Athena calls a halt to further bloodshed. Awestruck by the goddess’s presence the suitors’ relatives quit the field and peace is established. The problem of a blood feud threatening to engulf Odysseus and his household has been raised and as quickly dismissed. A divinity with a commanding voice is the answer to the problem of reciprocal violence. [3]
§2. The notices in the Homeric scholia that Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus put the end of the Odyssey at Book 23.296, if taken at face value, mean that the poem once ended with the reunion of Odysseus and Penelope in their marriage bed, without thoughts of bloody-minded relatives of the suitors to disturb their happiness. [4] This accords with the view of some that concern with the problem of reciprocal violence did not arise before the rise of the Greek polis, subsequent to the creation of the Odyssey. The “continuation” of the poem, from 23.297 on, would thus have been added only when a new sensibility reflecting the values of the polis had arisen and necessitated a reckoning, however perfunctory, with the problem of revenge. [5]
§3. The poem before 23.296 admittedly betrays some concern for the threat posed by the suitors’ families but not a great deal, and the passages in question have been taken as supporting both the presence and the absence of the final scene of the poem. [6] Two of the four passages in question occur early in the poem: in 1.378–380 Telemachus says to the suitors, “I will call out to the gods who are forever that Zeus grant me vengeance; you would then perish unavenged in this house;” [7] in 2.143–145 Telemachus repeats these words in the Ithacan assembly, and Zeus sends a pair of eagles to sanction his prayer (2.146–154). Telemachus has prayed that the suitors perish νήποινοι, “unavenged.” There is indeed recognition in this word that vengeance is an issue, but there is also the strongest indication that vengeance will not apply in the case of the suitors: the suitors will be νήποινοι, ‘unavenged’, if Telemachus’ prayer is answered. [8] Zeus’ two eagles, which attack the center of the assembly, tearing at the cheeks and necks of the assembled Ithacans, make it publicly and painfully clear that his prayer will be answered. [9] The Ithacans have been put on notice that the suitors with their current behavior are no better than criminals in the eyes of the king of the gods.
§4. In 20.41–43, as the slaughter of the suitors draws on, Odysseus, worrying that the suitors outnumber him, expresses this worry to Athena, and then adds an even greater worry: “if, with your help and that of Zeus, I kill them, where can I flee for safety?” [10] This passage is interpreted differently according to one’s view of the final scene of the poem: it is either a “plant” looking forward to that final scene, or it is like the passages in Books 1 and 2, which recognize that vengeance is never not a potential issue but dismiss it in the case of the suitors’ murder. [11] Athena’s response to Odysseus’ anxious questions is that he has her at his side to defend him and thus no reason to worry about being outnumbered. Her statement is emphatic, but it does not explicitly address what Odysseus calls his greater worry, his escape. [12] That, we are to understand, will also not be a problem.
§5. In contrast to the first three passages, which do not entail the final scene of the poem, at least not necessarily, the fourth passage, 23.111–140, is unambiguously a “plant,” and must therefore have entered the poem together with the poem’s final scene if that scene was added secondarily. With the suitors now dead Odysseus speaks explicitly to Telemachus about the danger that they face from the suitors’ kinsmen. [13] He devises a plan to appear to hold a wedding inside the palace to prevent word of the suitors’ slaughter getting out to the city before Odysseus and his band retreat to the country, where they will take thought for what comes next. [14]
§6. Little in the Odyssey requires the issue of reciprocal violence to be played out at the end of the poem. Apart from the plan devised by Odysseus in Book 23, [15] which goes strictly with the poem’s final scene, the overall impression left by the poem is that the suitors are beyond redemption, and that both Zeus and Athena intend them to suffer a fate that they beyond question deserve. [16] None of the suitors is spared, and when two other figures in the palace are spared, the herald Medon and the poet Phemios, the reason is their “good conduct” (εὐεργεσίη), in contrast to the “bad conduct” (κακοεργίη) being punished all around them without remorse. [17] Odysseus, in the Odyssey’s own terms, seems to have no more responsibility—no more bloodguilt—for the fate of the suitors than he does for the fate of his companions on their return from Troy. In both cases it was their own fault that brought the victims down. In the case of the companions, the Odyssey makes this clear in the poem’s opening passage: despite Odysseus’ efforts to save them “they perished by their own recklessness” (αὐτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο, 1.7). The only passage in which Odysseus is charged with responsibility for the failure to bring his companions home from Troy is in the final scene of the poem, where Eupeithes, the leader of the suitors’ kinsmen, links this failure with the death of the suitors. [18] The Odyssey clearly exculpates Odysseus in both cases. While we may consider Odysseus culpable according to our own lights, the Odyssey does not do so.
§7. If the Odyssey itself seems to require no more accounting from Odysseus for the death of the suitors than it does for the death of his companions—if the final scene, that is, serves no necessary narrative purpose— what follows from that? I agree with the idea that the final scene arose secondarily in post-Homeric times. I do not agree, however, that this means that the poem originally ended at 23.296. I will come back to what I understand “post-Homeric times” to mean in this case, and to where I see a concern for bloodguilt as demanding attention, namely in late seventh- and early sixth-century Athens. But first I wish to make a case that the Odyssey always had twenty-four books, and that the termination of the poem in Book 23, as reported by Aristophanes and Aristarchus, should not be taken at face value. In brief, I suggest that the Homeric Odyssey, which did not have the final scene of our Odyssey, had a different final scene which was replaced in Athens. What that scene was may seem an unanswerable question, but perhaps not entirely so. Leaving that point aside for now, if we grant that the process itself is possible, we may also envision that the transmission of the Odyssey went through an uncertain phase where performance of the poem, in Athens, did terminate in Book 23, before adjustments were made to Book 24 to produce the Odyssey that we now have. [19] Such adjustments, which were intended to address the problem of bloodguilt in the final scene of the poem, would also have affected what I regard as the heart of Book 24, namely the reunion of Odysseus with his father. Parts of that reunion remain intact in Odyssey 24, but they have been distorted by the need to have Laertes participate in the final battle with the suitors’ kinsmen. Here too we will be unable to recover fully what has been lost. On the other hand, a jewel of Book 24, the so-called Second Nekyia, did not suffer such distortion. In my view it was always part of the Odyssey’s last book.
§8. I have developed the case that the Iliad and the Odyssey were created together in their monumental form in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC at the festival of the Panionia in Asia Minor. [20] What we have now, essentially, are the two poems as they were created in Ionia but were then fixed a century and a half later in Athens in a somewhat altered form that was to serve as a state text to control the poems’ performance at the festival of the Panathenaia. [21] Rhapsodes at the Panathenaia took turns to perform the poems in orderly succession. [22] What may have occurred a century and a half earlier at the Panionia is of course undocumented, but it is reasonable to extrapolate from the later Athenian festival and to imagine several poets from the several Panionian cities as performers of the poems. At a regularly recurring festival it would have been possible for such performers, who as oral poets composed while they performed, to collaborate with each other if circumstances called for such collaboration. In my view the formation of the Ionian dodecapolis provided the occasion in which the Homeric poems were created. The number of cities, twelve, correlates strongly with the organization of the two poems. The twenty-four books in each poem break down into performance units of four books each. I will not repeat the detailed analysis of this structure, but point only to one such performance unit, Books 9–12 of the Odyssey, where Odysseus himself “performs” the tale of his adventures before his Phaeacian audience. Here is the ideal performance, consisting of four books. There are six such performance units in each poem, and thus there would have been twelve performances in all if the Iliad and the Odyssey were performed together in succession. There is in fact good reason to believe that the two poems were created in tandem and performed as a single entity divided into twelve performances of roughly equal length. [23]
§9. This model of the origin of the Homeric poems bears on the problem of Odyssey 24. On the one hand the sequence of four-book performances cannot well have ended with a stunted final performance of two and three-quarter books. The book divisions of the Iliad and the Odyssey are real in terms of performance, in that a book is a comfortable length for a single performer, and a four-book performance would thus have required four performers. [24] With ideally twelve performers coming from the twelve cities of the dodecapolis, each performer would thus have had four of the total forty-eight books to perform, though not in sequence. [25] It is thus my view that the termination of the Odyssey at 23.296 as reported by Aristophanes and Aristarchus cannot be referred to the poem as originally created at the Panionia. On the other hand, those who see our Odyssey of twenty-four books as genuinely Homeric, while their view squares with the clear structure of performance units, cannot in my model resort to a common explanation for what strikes many as the lower quality of Book 24, namely that the poet was tired or old by the time he came to the last book of the poem. [26] If the two Homeric poems were created by a process of regular repetition over a period of years, each four-book performance unit would have been on the same level as every other four-book performance unit, and none would have been allowed to fall far below grade.
§10. The Homeric poems, as I see them, were created at Panionion, where the festival of the Panionia was celebrated, [27] and were subsequently preserved, when performance at Panionion became untenable, offshore on Chios, in the guild of rhapsodes called the Homeridai. How the poems reached Athens is for me an open question, but the Homeridai most likely played a key role. In the time of Solon, at the end of the seventh and beginning of the sixth century BC, there is evidence that the Homeric poems were a serious matter in Athens. The wresting of Salamis from Megara, to which Solon devoted himself in his early career, has left its mark on the catalogue of ships, where Salamis under Telamonian Ajax has been made a virtual appendage of Athens. The Athenian entry to the catalogue of ships is a related example. Unlike all other entries to the catalogue, which list multiple towns per entry, Athens stands alone in its entry. The passage features the relationship between the city-goddess Athena and the hero Erechtheus, whose hero cult is clearly portrayed. Erechtheus died winning Eleusis for Athens in the heroic age, or so the myth would have it. In fact Eleusis was won not long before Salamis was won in Solon’s day, and the myth of Erechtheus was meant to cast this recent annexation back into heroic times. Only in the Athenian entry to the catalogue of ships is a hero cult directly attested in Homer. Everything, including such a hero cult, points to the conclusion that the Athenian entry does not go back to the Ionian poem of the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC, but has replaced an earlier version of this entry. The Ionian version would have listed multiple towns in Attica, as in all the other entries to the catalogue, and these towns would necessarily not have included still independent Eleusis. This absence may well have been the provocation for the replacement of this older version of the Athenian entry with a new version: the solution to the problem of a missing Eleusis was simply to ignore the convention of multiple towns and imply possession of Eleusis by the hero cult of Erechtheus. But if a missing Eleusis was the provocation for a new Athenian entry, there would also have been a deeper motivation, namely, to assert the new warlike nature of Athens and the new heroic stature accorded to Erechtheus. [28]
§11. Solon, who was alleged to have inserted the Salamis entry into the catalogue of ships, could also have inserted a new Athenian entry. Solon was thoroughly involved in the territorial expansion of Attica at the expense of its western neighbors as Athens became a more warlike state under his leadership. The tyrant Peisistratus, who was also alleged to have inserted the Salamis entry into the catalogue of ships, was more directly associated with an Athenian version of the Homeric poems in the form of the so-called Peisistratean recension. Herein lies another controversy, insofar as little is known in the way of content that was actually ascribed to the Peisistratean recension—three scattered lines and the change of a place-name in a fourth line—apart from one huge exception, namely all of Book 10 of the Iliad. [29] The scholia at the beginning of Book 10 state that this book was a separate work of Homer and that Peisistratus inserted it into the Iliad. This claim is dismissed by most, and I have my own further reason for not believing it: Book 10 is one of the 24 books of the Iliad, and as such it is a necessary part of the third performance unit of the poem, Books 9–12. While I do not take seriously the claim that Peisistratus collected scattered parts of the Iliad and assembled them into a single poem, I, like most, accept the role of Peisistratus’ son Hipparchus in regulating the performance of the Homeric poems at the Panathenaia, and in particular the Panathenaiac rule that the poems be performed in order. Previously, it would appear, rhapsodes had been free to choose whatever parts of the poems they wished as vehicles to display their talents, and it may well have been this that gave rise to the idea of a scattered text that needed to be reassembled. In fact there would have been no need of a Peisistratean recension for this purpose if the Ionian text of the poems had been safeguarded on the island of Chios since soon after the poems’ creation at Panionion. As I have said, I believe that this was the role of the Homeridai, the guild of rhapsodes that continued in existence on Chios long after the period of the poems’ creation.
§12. I turn now to a further Homeric text in which there is strong evidence of Athenian interference. As I have argued in detail, the catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11 is the Athenian expansion of an original Ionian version which still remains intact inside the expanded Athenian version. [30] The original Ionian version, only half the length of the expanded Athenian version, is a highly structured bipartite catalogue focusing on the hero Nestor and his twin myth. In the original catalogue’s dual structure Neleus, the father of Nestor, leads off the first half of the catalogue, and Nestor leads off the second half. The Theban twins, Amphion and Zethos, follow Neleus and his twin brother Pelias in the first half of the catalogue, and the Dioscuri, Castor and Polydeuces, follow Nestor in the second half. Nestor’s twin myth is deliberately not made explicit—he is one of three sons of Neleus in his passage. His myth is instead made clear by his place in the catalogue’s structure. His juxtaposition with the Dioscuri is crucially important in this respect. Twins also occupy the third place on both sides of the catalogue—the Aloadai, Otos and Ephialtes, follow the Dioscuri in the second half of the catalogue, while Heracles and his virtually present twin (Iphicles) follow the Theban twins in the first half. Heracles’ twin Iphicles is not mentioned but is implied by mention of his mortal father Amphitryon, which distinguishes him from Heracles. [31] On both sides of the catalogue it is twins all the way down until a short two-line coda at the end of each side. The focus on Nestor’s twin myth in the catalogue of heroines is a matter I will not go into here. It has to do with his overall Homeric role, which is based on his twin myth, and his connection with the Phaeacian king Alcinous, who is modeled on Nestor.
§13. The balance between the two sides of the Ionian catalogue emerges clearly when three later insertions to each side of the catalogue are identified and removed. The last of these insertions, a passage naming three Athenian heroines, gives the game away, for Athenian myth, in general, plays no part in Homer. Two other passages inserted into the expanded catalogue have language indicating sixth-century Hesiodic catalogue poetry as their source, and this source also points to Athenian authorship. The longest insertion in the expanded version of the catalogue occurs in the middle of the catalogue’s first passage. Tyro, the mother of the twins Neleus and Pelias, did not have these sons by her husband, Kretheus, who gave her three other sons, who are named at the end of her entry. Tyro first fell in love with the river god Enipeus in her native Thessaly, and it was Enipeus who fathered the twins Neleus and Pelias in the Ionian version of the catalogue. In the Athenian version a fourteen-line passage follows Tyro’s falling in love with Enipeus, and in this passage Poseidon takes on the likeness of Enipeus and makes love to Tyro in Enipeus’ place. This change of paternity reveals the reason for the Athenian expansion of the catalogue. In the Ionian city of Miletus Enipeus was called Poseidon Enipeus, and when this minor river god appeared in his own right in the Ionian catalogue, he implied Poseidon’s presence as well. This would not have been the case in Athens, where it mattered to important people that Poseidon be clearly seen as the father of Neleus. The tyrant Peisistratus claimed descent from Neleus, and he traced this descent through Nestor and Nestor’s son Peisistratus, the companion of Telemachus in the Odyssey, and the Athenian tyrant’s namesake. In Ionia the royal family of Miletus were called the Neleids, “descendants of Neleus,” but they traced their origin, not to Nestor, but to Nestor’s brother Periclymenos. Claiming descent from Nestor through his various sons in Homer became a matter of aristocratic rivalry in Athens. The Alcmaeonids, opponents of the Peisistratids, claimed descent from Nestor’s son Thrasymedes, and the Paionids, allies of the Alcmaeonids, claimed descent from Antilochus. It appears that this sort of claim started early in Athens, at least on the part of Peisistratus’ family. After yearly archons replaced the Athenian monarchy in 683 BC one of the early archons, in 669/8 BC, was named Peisistratus, and he is taken to be the ancestor of the tyrant Peisistratus. [32] It was thus soon after the creation of the Homeric poems in Ionia that Athenians began imitating the kings of Miletus, whose name “the Neleids” spoke for itself in the matter of actual descent from Pylian Neleus, with their own pretensions of such descent. This implies early acquaintance with the Homeric poems in Athens, for the sons of Nestor, claimed as ancestors by the Athenian families, belong to these poems.
§14. The Athenian version of the catalogue of heroines is meant to make Poseidon overt as the divine ancestor of the Peisistratid family, something that was only implied for the Neleid family of Miletus in the catalogue’s Ionian version, where Enipeus was the overt ancestor. When Poseidon addresses Tyro after his act of love he says that she will bear him “glorious children,” aglaa tekna. The same phrase already occurred in the Ionian version of the catalogue to describe the children whom Chloris, Nestor’s mother, bore to Neleus. The Peisistratids would clearly have appreciated having that honorific phrase, which reflected on their pretensions, emphatically duplicated at the head of the expanded catalogue.
§15. The catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11 has unique value in showing the difference between Homeric poetry in Ionia and the makeover of Homeric poetry in Athens. In the Ionian catalogue the passages in the catalogue’s two halves balance each other completely, decreasing progressively in length and ending with a two-line coda in each half. The catalogue’s two halves are the same length within a line, having 22 and 23 lines respectively. The Athenian remake did not fail to notice this carefully wrought balance, and took pains to add the same number of passages and the same number of lines to each half of the catalogue—three passages and 24 total lines to each half. But the result of this arithmetic precision was not to preserve the catalogue’s bipartite structure, but to obscure it beyond recognition, as proved by the lack of notice this bipartite structure has ever received in the expanded Athenian version which is our text.
§16. In fifth-century Athens Aeschylus’ Oresteia dramatized the problem of revenge killings repeated endlessly if left unchecked by the state. In the trilogy the killings are all in the same family so the problem is particularly acute. In the last play of the trilogy Erinyes, spirits of revenge for the slain Clytemnestra, pursue Orestes, who has sought Apollo’s protection in Delphi. Apollo, having purified Orestes of pollution, [33] does not try to appease these implacable spirits, but sends Orestes to Athens to supplicate the city-goddess Athena. Athena arranges to have Orestes tried for his mother’s murder before a citizen jury, where the Erinyes act as plaintiff against Orestes the defendant. When the jury splits evenly Athena decides the case in favor of Orestes, and she appeases the vengeful spirits by giving them a permanent home in Athens and making them guardians of the city’s prosperity. Thus the Erinyes are converted from their noxious pursuit of vengeance and are integrated into the city as beneficent spirts. Athena also makes the Council of the Areopagus, which has tried this homicide case, a permanent homicide court in the city. In their new home the Furies are called the Semnai, the “August Goddesses.” Their cult place was next to the Areopagus, and Aeschylus, in his mythic concentration of history, has linked the cult place of the Semnai with the homicide court on the Areopagus from the start.
§17. Earlier in Athenian history a notorious incident involved the Council of the Areopagus and the cult of the Semnai. Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch’s Life of Solon all refer to it. In the 630s BC the Athenian aristocrat Cylon attempted to make himself tyrant of Athens by seizing the Acropolis, but he and his party were trapped there by Athenian citizens. Cylon himself escaped but his followers, having taken refuge as suppliants at Athena’s altar or statue, were slowly being starved to death. The city archons persuaded the suppliants to leave on the understanding they would be tried but not put to death, but had them executed anyway once they left Athena’s protection. Some of the conspirators, Thucydides says, were executed at the altars of the Semnai, where they took refuge as they passed. Presumably the conspirators passed the sanctuary of the Semnai on their way to the Areopagus for trial. In Plutarch the episode is embellished with a colorful detail. The conspirators, before leaving Athena’s statue on the Acropolis, attached themselves to the statue with a thread to maintain contact with the goddess as they descended the Acropolis. But just as they passed the sanctuary of the Semnai the thread broke, indicating that Athena had refused her protection, and that they should be executed on the spot (Life of Solon 12.1).
§18. The murder of the Cylonian conspirators caused a prolonged civil and religious crisis. The archon held responsible for the murders was the Alcmaeonid Megacles, and according to Plutarch the ensuing conflict between the Alcmaeonids and the surviving Cylonians divided the people of Athens. Finally Solon persuaded the Alcmaeonids to stand trial, which ended with their exile. Although the Alcmaeonids in time returned to Athens, the Alcmaeonid curse remained a potent factor in Athenian politics. At the end of the sixth century the reformer Cleisthenes, an Alcmaeonid, was forced into exile by the Spartans when they called for the expulsion of those under the curse (tous enageas, Herodotus 5.72.1). In the run-up to the Peloponnesian war the Spartans again called for the expulsion of those under the curse (to agos), as they tried to undermine Pericles, an Alcmaeonid on his mother’s side (Thucydides 1.127.1), in his leadership of Athens.
§19. The Cylonian conspiracy and its aftermath unsettled Athens at the time of its occurrence and did not fade from memory thereafter. Aeschylus must have had that earlier period in mind when he took up the problem of reciprocal violence in his trilogy of 458 BC. The August Goddesses were at the center of the violation that took place in the murder of the Cylonian conspirators, and the Council of the Areopagus, which was meant to handle the problem of the guilty conspirators, was deprived of the chance to do so. All this is made right in Aeschylus’ drama about the house of Atreus. Aeschylus was possibly the first to equate the August Goddesses with the Furies pursuing Orestes. [34] His portrayal of them as resentful beings was perhaps inspired by the part they had once been given, when their altars were disastrously violated.
§20. The end of our Odyssey, in its concern with reciprocal violence, would fit the circumstances of sixth-century Athens. The conflict between the Alcmaeonids and the Cylonians began with the Cylonians clearly in the wrong in their attempt to seize control of the city and install their leader as tyrant, but blame shifted to the Alcmaeonids when Cylonians were treacherously murdered. In the Odyssey the suitors are represented as clearly in the wrong in their attempt to replace Odysseus in his own palace, but they are murdered in circumstances that could be seen as treachery undertaken by Odysseus. In seventh-century Athens the murders of the conspirators were followed by mutual reprisals. Plutarch uses the word stasis of the period, and he says that when the Alcmaeonids were finally banished, the bodies of their dead were dug up and thrown outside the country’s boundaries (Life of Solon 12.3). Victims’ graves were a focal point in instigating and perpetuating reciprocal violence—Solon’s funerary legislation dealt with this problem—and the Alcmaeonid graves in question would have belonged to victims in the conflict with the Cylonians. In our Odyssey no such vendetta can come about because Athena steps in to prevent it. This ending to the Odyssey, if it is in fact a sixth-century Athenian product, makes sense as a response to a contemporary situation. The new ending to the Odyssey attempts to put paid to a problem that roiled contemporary life.

§21. Before pursuing a more narrowly defined sixth-century context for the end of our Odyssey, there is the other side of the problem to consider first. If a new Athenian ending was given to the poem, what was the old ending that it replaced? This question of course cannot be answered, but it is still worth considering. A viable answer would have to arise out of the poem itself, and more than one possibility suggests itself. An interesting idea that Gregory Nagy suggested to me is that the poem might have ended with a festival of Apollo. Such a festival is already a feature of the poem, though only in the background. This festival takes place in the grove of Apollo on the very day that Odysseus strings the bow and kills the suitors. We hear of it first incidentally following an exchange between Antinous and Telemachus inside the palace (Odyssey 20.275–278): [35]

So spoke Antinous, but the other paid no attention.
The heralds came through the town driving the holy hecatomb
of the gods, and the flowing-haired Achaeans assembled under
the shady grove of him who strikes from afar, Apollo.

Later, when the suitor Eurymachus fails to string the bow and decries the shame if all the suitors should fail, Antinous counters his gloom with a remark on the festival taking place this day (Odyssey 21.256–260): [36]

Then in turn Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered:
“It will not happen that way, Eurymachus. You yourself know this.
Now there is a holy feast in the community
for the god. Who could string bows then? Put it away now
for our good time.”

It is of course on this day that Odysseus will string the bow, and Antinous has unwittingly set the stage for him to do so. Antinous’ question, who could string the bow on Apollo’s feast day, has an answer: Odysseus could, and will. There is further irony when Antinous sets the next day for the suitors to try the bow again: there will be no next day for the suitors. Antinous has it exactly wrong in what he says about stringing a bow on Apollo’s feast day. This is made clear in the event. Odysseus, after stringing the bow and sending an arrow through the axes, asks Apollo’s help in taking aim at Antinous (Odyssey 22.5–8): [37]

“Here is a task that has been achieved, without any deception.
Now I shall shoot at another mark, one that no man yet
has struck, if I can hit it and Apollo grants me the glory.”
He spoke, and steered a bitter arrow against Antinous.

Apollo’s festival in the Odyssey is widely assumed to be that for the new moon, which, with other divisions of the month, was sacred to Apollo. The identification of the new moon festival rests on the word lukabas which the disguised Odysseus twice uses of his own impending return, speaking first to Eumaeus and then to Penelope (Odyssey 14.16l–162, 19.306–307): [38]

In this very lukabas Odysseus will come,
when one month ends and another begins.

While both meaning and etymology are obscure for the word lukabas, it is clearly connected here with the interlunium, the dark of the moon: the hidden Odysseus will reappear like the moon after its three days in hiding. [39]

§22. Let us suppose that the Ionian Odyssey did end, not with Athena, but with Apollo. Would the ending have featured a continuation of the new moon festival? There is a problem with that. When the day of blood-filled archery ends with the reunion of Odysseus and Penelope in their marriage bed, the new moon festival, it would seem, is over. That is implied by Antinous’ words when he rejects Apollo’s festival day for any further attempts with the bow, and instead bids the suitors supplicate Apollo and try again the next day, when there will be, it would seem, no festival of Apollo to hinder them (Odyssey 21.263–68): [40]

“Come, let the wine steward pour a round of wine in the goblets,
so we can make a libation and put away the curved bow;
then at dawn instruct Melanthius, who is the goatherd,
to bring in goats, those far the best in all of his goatflocks,
so that, dedicating the thighs to the glorious archer
Apollo, we can attempt the bow and finish the contest.”

It is apparently a private sacrifice for the archer god that Antinous envisions, and not a prolongation of the public festival, which has already been duly celebrated with a hecatomb. In the Ionian Odyssey was such a private sacrifice to Apollo perhaps carried out, not by the suitors as proposed by Antinous, as part of a vow to the god, but by Odysseus and his family in order to give the god thanks? Odysseus has not promised anything to Apollo in our Odyssey, but perhaps he did so in the Ionian Odyssey. Whether he did so or not, some recognition of Apollo’s help seems not out of place at the end of the poem. There is another point worth considering, and that is Apollo’s role in the purifying of pollution, but this too has problems. Murder in Homer is expiated by exile, as in the case of the seer Theoclymenus, [41] or less often by compensation, as in the litigation scene on the shield of Achilles, and not by purification. [42] Moreover there is no hint in the Odyssey that Odysseus has polluted himself in murdering the suitors. [43] Still, the possibility of purification should not be dismissed.

§23. I return now to the idea of a sixth-century Athenian knowing a different ending to the Odyssey from ours, and deciding to give the poem a new ending to reflect a problem of his own time. The reciprocal violence following the Cylonian conspiracy would have been the contemporary problem to be reflected in the new ending. Solon, who played an important part in dealing with this violence, and whose hand seems detectable in the Athenian entry to the catalogue of ships, could have been the new ending’s author. It could also have been the poet who remade the catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11, although the motivation for a new ending to the poem is harder to see in the era of Peisistratus and his sons, in whose interest this catalogue was reworked. The problem of mutual violence was not as immediate as it had been in the era of Solon. If the Ionian Odyssey did end with Apollo rather than Athena, would that have been somehow unacceptable to the Peisistratids? The mutual hostility of Peisistratus and his family with Delphi is well known. This was the result of their hostility with the Alcmaeonids, who were enemies of the tyrants throughout the period of their tyranny. The Alcmaeonids gained great influence in Delphi when they lavishly rebuilt the temple of Apollo after its destruction by earthquake in 548 BC. Exiled from Athens by Peisistratus, the Alcmaeonids spent at least part of the period between 547 and 525 BC in Delphi, and later, in 510 BC, they were instrumental in driving the tyrants from Athens when they bribed the oracle to induce Sparta to support their cause. Hostility toward Delphi there was on the part of Peisistratus and his sons, but this did not mean hostility toward Apollo, nor does there seem to be any other reason for them to reject an ending of the Odyssey with Apollo in it. [44]
§24. For the ending of our Odyssey the era of Solon makes more sense than the era of Peisistratus. But even the immediacy of the problem of reciprocal violence in the Solonian era does not seem to account for the substitution of a new ending for an older ending, if that older ending was satisfactory. There must have been a more compelling reason in what the new ending replaced, as with the Athenian entry to the catalogue of ships, if the absence of Eleusis was the precipitating cause in that case. My suggestion in this case is that an Ionian ending with Apollo in it did in fact involve purification from pollution. If the Ionian Odyssey absolved Odysseus of all guilt for murder in a ceremony for Apollo, this was perhaps too one-sided a resolution for Athens to countenance in the aftermath of the Cylonian conspiracy. In his book Miasma Robert Parker argues that purification for murder may actually be implicit in Homer in certain scenes of supplication, and its apparent absence is therefore misleading. [45] If Apollo did purify Odysseus in some implicit way, the Odyssey would prefigure the Oresteia, where Apollo first instigates Orestes to kill his mother (Libation Bearers 269–295, 1029–1033) and then purifies him of the murder (Eumenides 280–283). In the Odyssey we have a clear sense of the archer god standing behind Odysseus as he kills the suitors. Did the poem end with Apollo also purifying Odysseus of those murders?
§25. Parker, expanding on his idea of implicit purification for murder in Homer, goes so far as to imagine the possibility of an explicit purification ceremony being conducted in some epic context by the likes of Nestor. [46] Nestor’s sacrifice to Poseidon in Odyssey 3 may have suggested the model. I do not imagine anything on that scale in Odyssey 24, but something smaller on behalf of Odysseus and his family, more like Nestor’s sacrifice to Athena in Odyssey 3. In such a sacrifice Odysseus’ father Laertes would also have had a part. The original Ionian ending of the Odyssey cannot have failed to reunite Odysseus with his father, and if the context was not an aborted battle with the suitors’ kin, could Laertes instead have conducted a sacrifice to Apollo on behalf of his now reunited family? Such a ceremony, conducted by an aged man for his family, would have balanced Nestor’s sacrifice to Athena in Odyssey 3, where Nestor recognizes the goddess flying off in bird form, and prays to her to be gracious to him and his family.
§26. To make sense of the claim made by not just one, but two Hellenistic scholars that the Odyssey once ended at Book 23 line 296, I propose that the Athenian reshaping of the end of the poem had two stages to it. The first and easiest way to deal with an ending of the poem that was no longer acceptable would have been to end the poem earlier, with the remarriage of Odysseus and Penelope, thus dispensing with the second Nekyia at the beginning of Book 24 as well as the problematic episode at the end of Book 24. The poem could have existed in this truncated form in Athens long enough to leave the trace of it that we find attested by Aristophanes and Aristarchus. When a new ending was subsequently composed to take the place of the old ending, it brought back with it the second Nekyia and the end of Book 23. Aristarchus, oddly enough, athetized both the second Nekyia and the passage near the end of Book 23 in which Odysseus recounts his adventures to Penelope. Why Aristarchus did so if he thought the poem ended earlier in Book 23 is part of the puzzle of the end of the Odyssey. We don’t know his reasons for the atheteses, but the mere fact that he made them shows that he had a more complicated view of the end of the poem than that it had once ended in Book 23. [47]


§27. Can we say more? The idea that the Odyssey composed and performed in Ionia in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC ended with Odysseus’ total exoneration for the blood shed in his palace will not sit well with those for whom the problem of reciprocal violence demanded more recognition than that. There is, however, a suggestive parallel for just such an outcome, and it is found, paradoxically, in sixth-century Athens. Theseus, the quintessential Athenian hero, became that hero in the course of the sixth century in myths that made him a kind of second Heracles. [48] Vanquishing robbers and monsters when he first made his way from Troezen to Athens he had to be purified of all the bloodshed before he could enter the city. [49] But Theseus slew not only foreign malefactors in imitation of Heracles. He also slew his own cousins when they plotted to seize his kingship, and for the shedding of their blood he was absolved specifically by Apollo. I suggest that when Theseus slew his cousins and was absolved by Apollo he did so in imitation of Odysseus— of Odysseus, that is, as absolved by Apollo for the murder of rivals for his kingship in an earlier ending of the Odyssey, which would still have been current in sixth-century Athens.
§28. Theseus entered Athens as an unknown stranger and was recognized by his father Aegeus through tokens that Aegeus had left for his unborn son years earlier in Troezen. Before Theseus’ appearance in Athens, Aegeus’ brother Pallas and Pallas’ fifty sons had expected to replace the apparently childless Aegeus in the kingship of Athens. When instead Theseus was recognized by Aegeus as his legitimate heir Pallas and his sons tried to seize the city and were slain by Theseus in an armed confrontation. [50] Theseus defended his legitimate right to rule, but in doing so he committed homicide, and in Athens there were courts to deal with homicide. Besides the Areopagus, which dealt with ordinary cases, there were two special courts which dealt, in one, with cases of unintentional homicide, and, in the other, with cases of intentional but justified homicide. The latter court, in which plaintiffs admitted that they had committed murder but claimed that the murder was justified, was held in the sanctuary of Apollo Delphinios. [51] In Theseus’ myth it was this court that absolved him of guilt for the death of his cousins. Theseus had committed murder, but justified murder. [52]
§29. The parallel between the situations of Odysseus and Theseus is striking: both arrive incognito and both slay a band of rivals for their rightful place as king. [53] A further parallel, which goes to the heart of the question about an earlier ending to Book 24, lies in the recognition of the hero by his father through a token. In the case of Theseus it is the sword that Aegeus left with his unborn son that proves his son’s identity and allows him to become king. [54] In Odyssey 24 Odysseus proves his identity to his father by the token of the orchard, knowledge of which only the two of them share. But here Odysseus’ story differs from Theseus’, for Odysseus is already king, and his rivals have already been eliminated. The point of the hero’s recognition by his father should be the legitimate transfer of royal power, and this point, it would seem, has been lost in Book 24. But perhaps the point is not lost, but only attenuated, if allowance is made for a peculiar phenomenon of the Odyssey, namely the hero’s flexible age. In his father’s presence Odysseus becomes a boy again as he relives his boyhood experience of the orchard. This is not the first time that the Odyssey presents the hero as flexible in age. As Olga Levaniouk has shown, the poem presents Odysseus in relation to Penelope as a rejuvenated suitor who successfully wins his bride. This gives the pair’s reunion the feeling of a new marriage. [55] There is something similar when Odysseus becomes a boy again in the orchard with his father. Unlike Aegeus, Laertes is not king, but by the poetic alchemy of Odysseus’ flexible age Laertes is still the key to the legitimacy of Odysseus’ rule. Like Theseus, Odysseus is effectively anointed by his father. This, I suggest, would have been the point of their reunion at the end of the Odyssey as originally conceived. But Laertes’ role in Book 24 has been distorted by the battle with the suitors’ kinsmen, if that battle has replaced something else at the end of the book. The meal that the reunited father, son, and grandson sit down to is abruptly abandoned when news comes of the approaching foe. In my view nothing would be lost, and much would be gained, if that meal were instead a peaceful sacrifice of thanksgiving to Apollo, conducted by the eldest member of the family. [56] The sense that Odysseus has been reinstated as legitimate king of Ithaca would be greatly enhanced by such a scene.
§30. Our Book 24, while ostensibly honoring Laertes as the slayer of Eupeithes, the leader of the suitors’ kinsmen, has instead, in my view, seriously diminished his originally intended role. [57] To appreciate the scope of Laertes’ intended role I return to a point made earlier about the Iliad and the Odyssey as companion pieces from the time of their creation in Ionia. The interlocking narratives of Iliad 8 and Odyssey 3 are the main proof of this relationship, [58] but attention should also be drawn to a different kind of correspondence at the end of the two poems, namely the complementary roles played by the two aged fathers, Priam and Laertes. Just as the aged Priam is at the center of Iliad 24, the aged Laertes should be at the center of Odyssey 24, and their stories should be seen together: Priam’s tragic loss of Hector is pointedly reversed in Laertes’ joyful reunion with Odysseus. [59] The contrast between the two poems, one about war and death, the other about survival and peace, reaches an emotional high point in their contrasting pictures of the two old men. [60]
§31. The god who absolved Theseus is Apollo Delphinios. The fundamental study of this god by Fritz Graf identifies two main aspects of his cult: a close connection with the political life of the community worshiping him, and a close connection with the maturation of the male youth of this community. [61] In the story of Theseus, whose recognition by his father coincides with his coming of age, and who is ready to assume leadership of the state in his father’s place, both functions of the god are well illustrated. [62] Odysseus too is cast, at least poetically, as a maturing youth in Book 24, and he too is about to assume (i.e. reassume) the kingship of his city. As the archer god who backs Odysseus in the contest of the bow and the slaughter of the suitors, Apollo is a looming presence in the Odyssey, as he is in the story of Theseus. [63] If Apollo once played a role in Odyssey 24 which was eclipsed by a new ending to the poem, was he identified in the earlier ending, even if only implicitly, as Apollo Delphinios? Are there arguments to support the idea that in Odyssey 24 the reinvestiture of Odysseus as king of Ithaca took place under the auspices of this particular god? [64]
§32. An immediate question is whether it is necessary to narrow our focus to this one cult of Apollo. Exoneration for homicide, the problem of Odyssey 24, is also in the province of Pythian Apollo, at least as the Eumenides of Aeschylus represents it. [65] But it is Apollo Delphinios in particular who absolves Theseus of murder through his homicide court in Athens. [66] The function of sanctioning justified murder is not attested for the cult of Apollo Delphinios elsewhere, and Athens may have been unique in this. [67] But the cult must have offered the possibility that such a court would arise, and that possibility would seem to be connected with what Graf identified as a basic feature of Apollo Delphinios, the close connection of the god with the political life of the community worshiping him; the aition of the Athenian court notably involves the legitimate transfer of political power, from Aegeus to Theseus, and this aition should be given ample weight. The clearest example of the cult’s political aspect, as Graf notes, is to be found in the Ionian city of Miletus, where in historical times Apollo Delphinios oversaw the peaceful transfer of political power from one year to the next. [68] As I envision the last book of the Odyssey in its original Ionian form, the continuity of legitimate political power in Ithaca was its primary concern. If Apollo Delphinios had anything to do with this concern, so also must the city of Miletus. Miletus has been mentioned already in discussing the contrast between the Ionian version of the catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11 and the Athenian expansion of this catalogue: the Ionian version clearly nods to Miletus. [69] The question now is how Miletus figures in the question of Apollo Delphinios in the Odyssey.
§33. In the post-regal period in Miletus the Delphinion was the main sanctuary of the college of Molpoi, the city’s governing body. The leader of the Molpoi, the aisymnētēs, [70] was the city’s annual eponym, an indication of the place of both the Molpoi and the Delphinion at the center of the city’s political life. [71] The Molpoi had replaced the king as leaders of the city when the monarchy ended, most likely in the early seventh century BC. [72] The circumstances that led to the change of government are known from fragments of two writers of the Augustan age, Conon, the author of diēgēseis, ‘narratives’, and the universal historian Nikolaos of Damascus. The last Neleid king of Miletus, Leodamas, became king in a contest with a kinsman, in which Leodamas prevailed by proving himself the greater benefactor of the city. [73] Leodamas went on to a popular and successful rule, but the instability that had occasioned the contest for the kingship in the first place became his undoing in the end when his unsuccessful kinsman, Amphitres, assassinated him and made himself tyrant of the city. Supporters of the slain Leodamas retaliated and killed Amphitres, and the people elected an aisymnētēs who proscribed or exiled Amphitres’ followers. [74] This brought the rule of the Neleid kings to an end and began the rule of the oligarchic Molpoi. [75]
§34. King Leodamas was slain while he was driving a sacred hecatomb for Apollo on a road outside the city. [76] We have a good idea of what the occasion was. In later times a yearly procession linked the sanctuary of Apollo Delphinios in Miletus with Apollo’s oracle and sanctuary in Didyma, eighteen kilometers south of the city. The procession demonstrated that Didyma belonged to Miletus, and this was doubtless its original purpose. [77] The procession is documented in great detail for a later period. An inscription of the Hellenistic era, datable probably to c.200 BC, reproduces the text of earlier versions of the inscription, the original portion going back to the Late Archaic period. [78] One of the features of the procession documented for this early date is a hecatomb driven from Miletus to Didyma and sacrificed there to Apollo. It cannot be proved that the procession originated in the royal period, but the archaeological evidence at least does not preclude this. [79] There is also a general likelihood that by the time of the last Neleid king Miletus was in full possession of its own territory.
§35. The procession from Miletus to Didyma came at the end of a four-day festival in Miletus in which new annual magistrates, including a new aisymnētēs, replaced the old. [80] The cult regulation that was originally composed in the Late Archaic period gives instructions for this festival and its associated transfer of political power. It is not known if the festival went back to the royal period, and at first glance it would seem that it did not, for there was no annual transfer of power in the royal period. But the point of the festival was perhaps not so much to transfer power as to reconfirm it. The Molpoi were a closed body with a permanent hold on power, and the change from the monarchy to the Molpoi only expanded the hold on power from an individual to a group. [81] A case for unbroken continuity in the festival might be made if in the royal period the festival was an annual reconfirmation of the king’s authority. Religious institutions are conservative, and it is easier to imagine a traditional festival being adapted to a new form of government at the end of the monarchy than a new festival being created ex nihilo at that time. [82] When Leodamas was struck down while driving the hecatomb for Apollo, had he just been reconfirmed as king in a springtime festival? [83] Not only would he have been particularly exposed to attack outside the city, but his rival would perhaps have been particularly incentivized by the ritual demonstration of his hold on power.
§36. This is a construction, but I think a plausible one. If Leodamas is imagined as being annually reconfirmed in power by a festival in honor of Apollo Delphinios, this has an immediate relevance to the Odyssey. I earlier described what I take to be the occasion for the genesis of the Homeric poems, namely the recurring celebration in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC of the festival of the Panionia at the site known as Panionion. The poems arose, I argue, in conjunction with a political development, namely the formation of the Ionian dodecapolis, a league of twelve cities on the coast of Asia Minor and two off-shore islands. [84] The driving force behind the building of this Panionian community would have been the city of Miletus, which extended the myth of its own founding by an Athenian Neleid to the other cities of the dodecapolis, and made this myth the touchstone of other cities’ participation in the union. [85] The figure to be associated with this historical event is Leodamas, the last king of Miletus, and the evidence for this is in the Odyssey. In Books 9–12 of the Odyssey the internal audience for the hero’s tale, the Phaeacians, reflects the external audience for the Homeric poems at large. This fabulous people, which the Odyssey both creates and, after their part is played, removes, is the image of the Ionians themselves as they celebrated the Panionia and listened to the Homeric poems performed at the festival. The stages in the myth of the foundation of Miletus—the myth which was extended to the other cities of the dodecapolis—are Pylos, Athens, and Miletus, and all three stages are personified in the Phaeacian royal family. The key figure is the king, Alcinous, who is unmistakably modeled, in his function as “homebringer” and in his fictive genealogy, on the Pylian hero Nestor. [86] The Phaeacian queen, Arete, is identified with Athena Polias, the city goddess of Athens, when Athena assumes this form immediately after introducing her. [87] The names of the Phaeacian king and queen clearly evoke the figures standing behind them, Alkinoos, “he who brings home by his might,” evoking Nestōr, “he who brings home,” and Arētē, “she who is prayed to,” evoking Athena, the city goddess of Athens. The figure who represents the final stage in the foundation of Miletus, namely Miletus itself, is the royal prince, Laodamas. Laodamas, the future king, has little more to do in the story of the Odyssey than to show respect and deference to the stranger who has landed in his people’s midst, the hero of the story. In contrast to the names Alcinous and Arete, which speak for themselves in the story of the poem, his name Laodamas, “he who controls the people,” has to do with his role outside the story, as the future king. [88] Laodamas is the Homeric form of the name belonging to the last Neleid king of Miletus, Ionic Leōdamas. This choice of name cannot be accidental, given the names of all the other Phaeacians, which are uniformly significant, including the many that are only generically sea-related. [89] It is a unique honor for a living king to be represented in the Odyssey as the future king of the Phaeacians, the fabulous people who stand for all the Ionians of the dodecapolis. The honor bespeaks the role that this king presumably had in the formation of the dodecapolis and in the creation of the Homeric poems. [90]
§37. If the historical king Leodamas in fact celebrated an annual festival for Delphinian Apollo, the same festival known from later times, and if this festival each year reconfirmed his rule, it is easy to imagine a similar ritual at the end of Odyssey 24, insofar as it would have confirmed Odysseus in the kingship of Ithaca. But such a ritual in the Odyssey would not have identified itself explicitly with the main civic ritual of Miletus, or with the cult of Apollo Delphinios in Miletus, for that is not how such things go in Homer. The way that king Leodamas is present in the Odyssey and yet not actually present suggests how Apollo Delphinios, as worshiped in Miletus, might have been present and yet not actually present at the end of the poem. [91] It would have been a matter of suggestion rather than explicit reference. [92] One suggestive detail for the festival is already present in the Odyssey, and that is the time of year in which the festival for Apollo seems to take place in Book 20, namely spring. The festival for Apollo Delphinios in Miletus took place in the spring, and it marked the beginning of a new year; [93] it was when new magistrates began their year in office. [94] The time of year in the Odyssey is not definitely marked, but as Odysseus regains control of his kingdom spring birds begin to populate the narrative, [95] and in Book 24 Laertes is found, not in his wintertime hut, but in his orchard. [96]
§38. The maturation of male youth, a main concern of cults of Apollo Delphinios, may be another area of common concern with the Odyssey. The Molpoi decree uses the term neoi to refer to a class of male youths, apparently those who had ended their period as ephebes and were now “new” (but still unmarried) citizens. [97] The decree does not refer to the admission of a new yearly crop of neoi, [98] it does, however, regulate an event called the Hamillētēria, a ritual contest among the neoi. [99] In the Odyssey Telemachus seems to have reached this stage of life. When Penelope decides to hold the contest of the bow and remarry she acts on Odysseus’ words to her when he left for Troy, that if he did not return and she wished to remarry, she should do so when Telemachus became bearded. [100] Penelope decides to act on the day of Apollo’s festival, and this suggests that Telemachus, in terms of the festival at Miletus, would have been one of the year’s newly admitted neoi. [101]
§39. The case for a connection between the festival of Apollo Delphinios in Miletus and a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Apollo in Odyssey 24 would be stronger, if in addition to general points of connection with the Odyssey, Apollo Delphinios in Miletus had the same power to exonerate justified murderers as did Apollo Delphinios in Athens, but there is no evidence for this. [102] A sacrifice to Apollo by Odysseus to thank the god for help in the trial of the bow and the battle with the suitors, if the offering was accepted by the god, would have meant at least tacit exoneration for the killing of the suitors, and this would be a satisfactory ending to the story. The Theseus story also ends with a sacrifice to Apollo: after slaying his cousins, Theseus captures the Marathonian bull and drives it to the Delphinion, where he sacrifices it to the god. In Plutarch the capture of the Marathonian bull is presented as a heroic exploit, but the fact that the bull is sacrificed to Apollo Delphinios deserves emphasis. [103] Plutarch omits the exoneration of Theseus by the Delphinion court for the killing of his cousins; he perhaps follows a version of the myth in which exoneration was implied in the god’s acceptance of the offering of the bull. [104] Theseus’ heroic exploit of course had no counterpart in the ending of the Odyssey, but the significant parallel may have been simply a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Apollo.
§40. If the Odyssey originally ended as here proposed, with no thought given to the suitors beyond their righteous death, the circumstances in seventh-century Athens which would have occasioned an ending different from this, the ending that replaced it, have been explored: in c.630 BC the Cylonian conspirators acted like the suitors insofar as they tried but failed to install themselves in a position of power not rightfully theirs; the brutal execution of the conspirators that followed led to mutual reprisals, and finally to the banishment of those held responsible for the executions, the Alcmaeonids. This situation was not entertained by the original Odyssey, but is expressly entertained by its new ending. Later, in sixth-century Athens, when Theseus became the quintessential Athenian hero, there must have been a parallel tradition of performance that continued to feature the original ending of the Odyssey, if, as proposed here, Theseus’ justified killing of his rivals was an imitation of Odysseus’ justified killing of the suitors. What were the circumstances in sixth-century Athens that reflected this older unconcern with the problem of vendetta at the end of the Odyssey?
§41. According to Athenian myth Theseus’ great political deed was the unification of Attica, his synoikismos. [105] Two generations before Theseus, king Pandion had divided the kingdom into four parts and left each of his four sons a part. Theseus’ father Aegeus received the city of Athens and the adjacent plain. The three other parts of the kingdom were the shore (paralia), the eastern upland district (diakria), and Megara, which still belonged to Athens according to this myth. [106] The matching of these three regions with the three other sons of Pandion is clear in the case of Megara, which went to Nisus, and the eastern upland district, which went to Lycus, but is less clear for the shore. Pallas received the shore according to two Aristophanic scholia, [107] but Pallas, “rather awkwardly,” was also the eponym of an inland deme, namely Pallene; [108] a fragment of Sophocles also seems to point to Pallene as Pallas’ share. [109] In the sixth century the shore (paralia) was the territory of the Alcmaeonids at the time of the well-known three-party strife first attested for c.560 BC, when Peisistratus became tyrant of the city. [110] The other two regions involved in this strife were the plain (pedion: Athens and its adjacent plain), and the eastern upland district of Attica (diakria). [111] These three regions match the four regions in the myth of Pandion’s sons minus Megara, since become Dorian. [112] The shore, the home of the Alcmaeonidae, seems to have been equated, with some evident strain, with the territory of the rebellious Pallantidai. The three-party conflict originated between only two of the parties, the pedion and the paralia, before Peisistratus championed the diakria and made himself tyrant in c. 560. [113] At the head of the paralia in this period was the Alcmaeonid Megacles, the grandson of Megacles the archon of 632/1 BC, who had been exiled in the aftermath of the Cylonian conspiracy. The pedion was led by Lycurgus, a presumed member of the Eteoboutads, the family that provided the city’s most important priesthoods, those of Poseidon Erechtheus and Athena Polias, and to which the fourth-century orator Lycurgus belonged. [114] The conflict between the party of the plain and the party of the shore, which abated once Peisistratus became tyrant and party alignments shifted, [115] accounts quite well for the myth of Theseus’ battle with the Pallantidai and his exoneration for their murder: those in control of Athens, the party of the plain, are in effect equated with Aegeus and Theseus in their conflict with the Pallantidai; the court that exonerated Theseus for killing his rebellious cousins was in Athens, in Aegeus’ own place of residence, and thus under the party of the plain’s control. The myth, understood in this way, belonged not to the Alcmaeonids, but to the Alcmaeonids’ rivals. The myth of Theseus’ unification of Attica can be seen in the same light, as the goal more than the accomplished fact of those in control of the city of Athens during the period of regional rivalry when the myth arose. [116]
§42. In sixth-century Athens two endings to the Odyssey were current, the original Ionian ending, which simply celebrated Odysseus’ victory over his foes and his just reclaiming of the kingship, and an alternative ending, composed in Athens in the late seventh century, which complicated Odysseus’ victory with the need to take account of the threat of vendetta. The original ending, having the prestige of tradition, would have continued in circulation until it was finally excluded in the Athenian state text, which could only accommodate one ending. If this is in fact what happened, it is interesting to note that the Peisistratids, who controlled the state text for performance at the Panathenaia, chose the Athenian version, with Athena rather than Apollo bringing down the curtain. [117] Peisistratus’ own claim to have Athena as his special protector is well known, as is the relationship of his enemies, the Alcmaeonids, with Apollo in Delphi. Possibly these factors weighed if a choice of endings was made. At the time of the Cylonian conspiracy the Alcmaeonids would have been content to see themselves in the light of the Odyssey’s only ending at that time, the original Ionian ending. Megacles, the Alcmaeonid, dealt with the conspirators as Odysseus had dealt with the suitors, and for Odysseus all had come out well. But as things turned out life did not imitate art in the case of Megacles.


§43. Odysseus returns at the dark of the moon. The festival of Apollo being celebrated when he reveals himself and regains his kingdom is thus a new-moon festival. The season is spring, and the new moon, marking the restoration of Odysseus’ kingship, also marks the beginning of a new year. In contemporary Miletus the king’s power would also have been ritually renewed at the start of the new year, in the spring, if post-royal Miletus is a guide; there rituals from the seventh to the ninth of Taureon, the first month of the year, marked the transfer of political power from one set of annual magistrates to the next. The Molpoi inscription, which regulates the new year festival, includes no new-moon festival to mark the start of the year, and this seems anomalous. The inscription also does not regulate the admission of new citizens, the neoi, which must have taken place in Taureon, but it is unclear when. [118] On the tenth of Taureon the new citizens had already been admitted, [119] and while the seventh–ninth of Taureon cannot be ruled out, the new-moon festival on the first of Taureon seems the likely occasion for their admission. [120] The Odyssey would be consistent with this insofar as Penelope’s decision to remarry coincides with the new-moon festival in Ithaca, and the reason for her decision is evidently that Telemachus has reached the age to become a new citizen.
§44. There is no doubt that Odysseus returns with the new moon. But the word used to designate the new moon is not a perspicuous term like noumēnia, “new month,” but the oracular-sounding lukabas. This word, which in Homer is accompanied by a gloss to explain it, is far from perspicuous in terms of etymology, or even meaning. To conclude this study, which by the nature of its subject has been speculative, speculation on this dark word seems not inappropriate, and the place to start is the meaning of lukabas in Homer, namely “dark of the moon.” In its few occurrences in later Greek, mostly poetic and oracular in context, lukabas means “year.” In the Odyssey lukabas could mean “year,” but this would rob the disguised Odysseus’ prophecy of its urgency: returning “this very year, at the end of one month and the beginning of another,” would mean a possible wait of up to a year for Odysseus to appear. It is generally agreed that context requires τοῦδ’ αὐτοῦ λυκάβαντος to mean “at this very new moon,” as is made clear in the line following, which is in fact a gloss. [121]
§45. Λυκάβας appears to be a compound, the first element of which, λυκα-, looks like either a word for “light,” λύκη [122] , or the word for “wolf,” λύκος, but neither word ends in short α; the compound’s second element, -βας, suggests the verb βαίνω, “to go,” but -βατης, not -βας, is the form this element should have. The best attempt to overcome these formal difficulties takes -βας as an aorist participle of βαίνω, and posits an originally accusative phrase *λύκα βάντα, in which λύκα is an otherwise unattested noun *luk-, “light,” in the accusative singular masculine, and the phrase *λύκα βάντα would be parallel to the frequent Homeric phrase ἐς ἠέλιον καταδύντα, “until the sun having set, until sunset.” When the noun *luk-, “light,” fell out of existence, the two words would have been taken together as one, λυκάβαντα, which could then be used in other cases. [123]
§46. While this etymology as “the light having gone” clearly connects lukabas with the “dark of the moon,” the expression is not as specific in designating the phenomenon in question as the expression “the sun having set” is in designating “sunset,” nor is the usefulness of an accusative expression for “dark of the moon” as clear as it is in the case of “sunset.” [124] The existence of a noun *luk-, “light,” is also precarious, although the case for it has been ingeniously supported. [125] While better than other attempts at an etymology for λυκάβας, this one too seems fragile, and the way is thus open to try something new. [126] My own suggestion is to take the notion of “light having gone” as a folk etymological interpretation of a different word that has been deformed by a metathesis of its first two syllables, from *καλύβας to λυκάβας, where *καλύβας would contain the root of καλύπτω, “hide, conceal,” and designate the “dark of the moon” directly; the proposed process of taboo deformation would replace the notion of “dark” in *καλύβας with the notion of “light” in λυκάβας, the “dark of the moon” being a perilous time and not to be spoken of directly. The last consonant of the stem of the verb καλύπτω is a bilabial stop which varies, either -π-, -β-; or -φ-; [127] there are derivatives in which the stem ends in either -β- or -φ-, the main instance of the former being καλύβη, “cabin, hut.” [128] For a suffix -αντ- added to the verbal stem καλυβ- compare such forms as ἀκάμας, “untiring” (verb κάμνω) and ἀδάμας, “steel” (verb δάμνημι), and also, apparently, the Homeric plural noun τάλαντα, “plates of a balance” (verb “to bear”). [129] For the sense of darkness appropriate to the new moon *καλύβας can be compared with the Homeric verb καλύπτω in such phrases in the Iliad as τὸν δὲ σκότος ὄσσε κάλυψεν; τὸν δὲ κατ’ ὀφθαλμῶν ἐρεβεννὴ νὺξ ἐκάλυψεν; τὼ δέ οἱ ὄσσε / νὺξ ἐκάλυψε μέλαινα; τὼ δ’ αὖθι τέλος θανάτοιο κάλυψεν. [130] The sense that the moon dies at the new moon is inherent in the verb used of the moon’s waning, namely φθίνω, “to waste away, perish,” and death is likewise the dominant context of Homeric καλύπτω. [131]
§47. I have no close parallels for the proposed process of taboo deformation, but a change in the order of syllables to yield a new and unexpected meaning is perhaps a linguistic universal. [132] There may be another approach to the specific possibility of a noun *καλύβας lying behind λυκάβας in the Odyssey. When Odysseus tests his father in Odyssey 24 he claims to be from a place called Alybas: εἰμὶ μὲν ἐξ Ἀλύβαντος, ὅθι κλυτὰ δώματα ναίω (24.304). No place of this name is known, and this sets it apart from other places in Odysseus’ lies, which are purposefully set in the real world. [133] Can we detect in ἐξ Ἀλύβαντος an underlying form *ἐκ Καλύβαντος? The loss of the initial consonant in Ἀλύβαντος would be another case of taboo deformation, *Kalybas, “Dark of the Moon,” designating in this case a place somewhere in the unknown expanse of the western sea. [134] This would be an ominous place for Odysseus to have last been seen five years earlier, however good the omens were at his departure. [135] The suggestion of “wandering” in the deformed name Alybas would be less ominous, if wandering is what this name is meant to suggest. [136] I again have no exact parallel for the proposed taboo deformation. [137]


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[ back ] 1. I owe thanks to Gwenda-lin Grewal, Alexander Herda, Olga Levaniouk, and Leonard Muellner for numerous insightful comments, corrections, and challenging questions, and to Gregory Nagy for an inspired suggestion.
[ back ] 2. Dorothea Wender, who defends the genuineness of Odyssey 24 as a whole, agrees with critics of the book as to the lack of artistic merit of this scene, which she nevertheless regards as Homeric (Wender 1978: 63–64; cf. n. 26 below).
[ back ] 3. Earlier in the episode Athena has disguised herself as Mentor, but it must be as the goddess herself, and not as the old man Mentor, that she strikes fear into the suitors’ relatives: ὣς φάτ’ Ἀθηναίη, τοὺς δὲ χλωρὸν δέος εἷλε (24.533).
[ back ] 4. Two words meaning “end,” telos and peras, are used by the scholia with reference to 23.296; the argument that telos here means not “termination,” but “principal climax” or “goal,” is effectively refuted by Stephanie West’s observation that “Aristophanes and Aristarchus are not normally cited as literary critics but as authorities on questions of scholarship” (West 1989: 118).
[ back ] 5. This, notably, is the view of Seaford 1994: 41, and in agreement Lentini 2019: 86 n. 50: “Di grande interesse anche la trattazione di R. Seaford…, secondo il quale la “Continuazione” tradirebbe un’attenzione maggiore per vincoli sociali più ampi (quelli cioè alla base della polis), che non quelli circoscritti alla famiglia.” I do not take a position on the stage of development of the polis seen in the Homeric poems, but I would point to the city of the Phaeacians as a warning against undervaluing this stage.
[ back ] 6. Wender, who defends the genuineness of the final scene (cf. n. 2 above), does so not only “because of the demands of the ancient blood feud,” but also because of the presence in the text of four “plants,” passages which apparently look forward to the final scene (Wender 1978: 65–67). Seaford, who denies concern with a blood feud, suggests that the passages looking forward to the threat of such a feud could have been added at the same time as the continuation, but that even this assumption is rendered unnecessary by closer inspection of the passages (Seaford 1994: 39–40).
[ back ] 7. ἐγὼ δὲ θεοὺς ἐπιβώσομαι αἰὲν ἐόντας,
αἴ κέ ποθι Ζεὺς δῷσι παλίντιτα ἔργα γενέσθαι·
νήποινοί κεν ἔπειτα δόμων ἔντοσθεν ὄλοισθε.
The root of Greek τίνω, “pay back,” is found in both παλίν τι τα ἔργα and νή ποι νοι, which I have rendered as “vengeance” and “unavenged” respectively. The related ideas of “requital” and “compensation” are also present in this context, which concerns the suitors’ feasting on another’s property “without compensation” (νήποινον, line 377). Telemachus says that he will call on the gods for “requital,” which, however, is to go beyond compensation for property. The suitors’ feasting “without compensation” will end in their deaths “without compensation” if Zeus grants Telemachus’ prayer; the suitors, that is, will die “unavenged.”
[ back ] 8. Ποινή is the “satisfaction” paid to the relative—brother or father—of a murder victim to allow the murderer to remain in society; this is spelled out in Iliad 9.632–636, when Ajax blames Achilles for refusing to receive satisfaction from Agamemnon:
καὶ μέν τίς τε κασιγνήτοιο φονῆος
ποινὴν ἢ οὗ παιδὸς ἐδέξατο τεθνηῶτος·
καί ῥ’ ὃ μὲν ἐν δήμῳ μένει αὐτοῦ πόλλ’ ἀποτίσας,
τοῦ δέ τ’ ἐρητύεται κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀγήνωρ
ποινὴν δεξαμένῳ.
“And yet a man takes from his brother’s slayer
the blood price, or the price for a child who was killed, and the guilty
one, when he has largely repaid, stays still in the country,
and the injured man’s heart is curbed, and his pride, and his anger
when he has taken the price.”
(Translations of this and most other Homeric passages are Richmond Lattimore’s.)
[ back ] 9. Cf. Seaford 1994: 40: “Even the earlier version of the Odyssey could hardly avoid the issue of vengeance altogether, and the portent confirming Telemachos’ prayer is just what we would expect: the absence of vengeance is unusual, requires explanation, and so is sanctioned by Zeus.”
[ back ] 10. πρὸς δ’ ἔτι καὶ τόδε μεῖζον ἐνὶ φρεσὶ μερμηρίζω·
εἴ περ γὰρ κτείναιμι Διός τε σέθεν τε ἕκητι,
πῇ κεν ὑπεκπροφύγοιμι; τά σε φράζεσθαι ἄνωγα.
[ back ] 11. Wender 1978: 65, Seaford 1994: 40, respectively.
[ back ] 12. Odyssey 20.45–53:
σχέτλιε, καὶ μέν τίς τε χερείονι πείθεθ’ ἑταίρῳ,
ὅς περ θνητός τ’ ἐστὶ καὶ οὐ τόσα μήδεα οἶδεν·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ θεός εἰμι, διαμπερὲς ἥ σε φυλάσσω
ἐν πάντεσσι πόνοισ’. ἐρέω δέ τοι ἐξαναφανδόν·
εἴ περ πεντήκοντα λόχοι μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
νῶϊ περισταῖεν, κτεῖναι μεμαῶτες Ἄρηϊ,
καί κεν τῶν ἐλάσαιο βόας καὶ ἴφια μῆλα.
ἀλλ’ ἑλέτω σε καὶ ὕπνος· ἀνίη καὶ τὸ φυλάσσειν
πάννυχον ἐγρήσσοντα, κακῶν δ’ ὑποδύσεαι ἤδη.
“Stubborn man! Anyone trusts even a lesser companion
than I, who is mortal, and does not have so many ideas.
But I am a god, and through it all I keep watch over you
in every endeavor of yours. And now I tell you this plainly:
even though there were fifty battalions of mortal people
standing around us, furious to kill in the spirit of battle,
even so you could drive away their cattle and fat sheep.
So let sleep take you now. There is annoyance in lying
awake and on guard all night. You will soon be out of your troubles.”
[ back ] 13. Odyssey 23.117–122:
ἡμεῖς δὲ φραζώμεθ’, ὅπως ὄχ’ ἄριστα γένηται.
καὶ γάρ τίς θ’ ἕνα φῶτα κατακτείνας ἐνὶ δήμῳ,
ᾧ μὴ πολλοὶ ἔωσιν ἀοσσητῆρες ὀπίσσω,
φεύγει πηούς τε προλιπὼν καὶ πατρίδα γαῖαν·
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἕρμα πόληος ἀπέκταμεν, οἳ μέγ’ ἄριστοι
κούρων εἰν Ἰθάκῃ· τὰ δέ σε φράζεσθαι ἄνωγα.
“But let us make our plans how all will come out best for us.
For when one has killed only one man in a community,
and then there are not many avengers to follow, even
so, he flees into exile, leaving kinsmen and country.
But we have killed what held the city together, the finest
young men in Ithaka. It is what I would have you consider.”
[ back ] 14. Odyssey 23.133–140:
αὐτὰρ θεῖος ἀοιδὸς ἔχων φόρμιγγα λίγειαν
ὑμῖν ἡγείσθω πολυπαίγμονος ὀρχηθμοῖο,
ὥς κέν τις φαίη γάμον ἔμμεναι ἐκτὸς ἀκούων,
ἢ ἀν’ ὁδὸν στείχων ἢ οἳ περιναιετάουσι·
μὴ πρόσθε κλέος εὐρὺ φόνου κατὰ ἄστυ γένηται
ἀνδρῶν μνηστήρων, πρίν γ’ ἡμέας ἐλθέμεν ἔξω
ἀγρὸν ἐς ἡμέτερον πολυδένδρεον. ἔνθα δ’ ἔπειτα
φρασσόμεθ’, ὅττί κε κέρδος Ὀλύμπιος ἐγγυαλίξῃ.
“Then let the inspired singer take his clear-sounding lyre,
and give us the lead for festive dance, so that anyone
who is outside, some one of the neighbors, or a person going
along the street, who hears us, will think we are having a wedding.
Let no rumor go abroad in the town that the suitors
have been murdered, until such time as we can make our way
out to our estate with its many trees, and once there,
see what profitable plan the Olympian shows us.”
[ back ] 15. Seaford 1994: 40, in addressing this passage, proposes that the mock wedding celebration has replaced an actual wedding that once ended the poem, and that the reworking of the wedding theme to allow a new ending on the battlefield would account for the explicit “plant” at this point. This argument assumes that the Odyssey did in fact end at 23.296, and with this assumption I do not agree; see below.
[ back ] 16. The suitors are not all equally culpable, as the example of Amphinomos (16.394–398) and Leiodes (21.144–147, 22.310–329) shows, but they are the exception that proves the rule.
[ back ] 17. The herald Medon supplicates Telemachus and Odysseus then responds to his appeal (Odyssey 22.372–377):
θάρσει, ἐπεὶ δή σ’ οὗτος ἐρύσατο καὶ ἐσάωσεν,
ὄφρα γνῷς κατὰ θυμόν, ἀτὰρ εἴπῃσθα καὶ ἄλλῳ,
ὡς κακοεργίης εὐεργεσίη μέγ’ ἀμείνων.
ἀλλ’ ἐξελθόντες μεγάρων ἕζεσθε θύραζε
ἐκ φόνου εἰς αὐλήν, σύ τε καὶ πολύφημος ἀοιδός,
ὄφρ’ ἂν ἐγὼ κατὰ δῶμα πονήσομαι ὅττεό με χρή.
“Do not fear. Telemachus has saved you and kept you
alive, so you may know in your heart, and say to another,
that good dealing is better by far than evil dealing.
But go out now from the palace and sit outside, away from
the slaughter, in the courtyard, you and the versatile singer,
so that I can do in the house the work that I have to.”
Cf. also Odyssey 22.413–416, where Odysseus, restraining Eurykleia from exulting over the slain suitors, says that the “fate of the gods” and their own “wicked deeds” (σχέτλια ἔργα) have destroyed them.
[ back ] 18. Odyssey 24.426–429:
“ὦ φίλοι, ἦ μέγα ἔργον ἀνὴρ ὅδε μήσατ’ Ἀχαιούς·
τοὺς μὲν σὺν νήεσσιν ἄγων πολέας τε καὶ ἐσθλοὺς
ὤλεσε μὲν νῆας γλαφυράς, ἀπὸ δ’ ὤλεσε λαούς,
τοὺς δ’ ἐλθὼν ἔκτεινε Κεφαλλήνων ὄχ’ ἀρίστους.
“Friends, this man’s will worked great evil upon the Achaians.
First he took many excellent men away in the vessels
with him, and lost the hollow ships, and lost all the people,
and then returning killed the best men of the Kephallenians.”
Note that in 22.317 and 22.416 the suitors are said to have perished through their own “recklessness,” ἀτασθαλίῃσιν, the word used in relation to the comrades’ self-inflicted doom in 1.7. In 1.34 Zeus uses the same word of mortals like Aegisthus who blame the gods for woes they bring on themselves.
[ back ] 19. A stage of transmission in which the Odyssey, in some performances, ended at 23.296 would be consistent with the evidence of the Telegony, which, as Malcolm Davies argues, “was intended to follow on from an Odyssey lacking the ‘Continuation’. For it [the first sentence of Proclus’ résumé of the Telegony] tells us that the suitors were buried by their relatives. And yet such a detail is already present in the ‘Continuation’ (Od. 24.417ff.) and the Telegony would hardly wish to repeat the motif” (Davies 1989: 88). The Telegony belongs to the first half of the sixth century: its author, Eugammon of Cyrene, is dated 566 by Eusebius, and the appearance in the poem of Arcesilaus as a son of Odysseus relates to kings of Cyrene, Arcesilaus I in particular; cf. West 1996. The uncertain dates of the rule of Arcesilaus I are given as c.591?–c.575? by Graham and Hornblower 1996. In terms of my argument the truncated version of the Odyssey would have spread from Athens to Cyrene by the early sixth century.
[ back ] 20. Frame 2009: 513–647 (Part 4: §4.1– EN4.14).
[ back ] 21. Gregory Nagy’s chronological model for the fixation of the Homeric text is good to think with; “transcript” is the term he proposes for the stage reached in sixth- and fifth-century Athens, implying a text which was used in performance but did not substitute for performance; see Nagy 1996: 109–113.
[ back ] 22. The festival featured a contest among rhapsodes but the rhapsodes were required to maintain the correct order of the poems in accord with the “Panathenaic rule;” cf. below in text.
[ back ] 23. See Frame 2009: 173–225 (Chapter 6: §2.56– §2.99), for my argument that an episode in Iliad 8 alludes to Nestor’s account of the Greek nostoi in Odyssey 3. This forward allusion, which is detailed and systematic, is for me the proof that the two poems were created together in their monumental form. Others have come to the same conclusion on the basis of different correspondences between the two poems. I cite here a remark by Giuseppe Lentini on the mutual influence of each poem on the other (Lentini 2019: 83): “Numerosi elementi fanno pensare che le due tradizioni omeriche, quella dell’Iliade e quella dell’Odissea, abbiano interagito tra di loro influenzandosi vicendevolmente durante tutto il corso del loro sviluppo, culminato con il raggiungimento della forma monumentale dei due poemi quali li conosciamo oggi.” Lentini refers to his earlier work (Lentini 2006), for the relationship between the two poems. As to the number of days required for performance of the combined Iliad and Odyssey at the Panionia I speculate that the twelve performance units could have been spread over twelve days, but more likely took only six days, if there were two performances per day; cf. Frame 2009: 575–576 (§4.37).
[ back ] 24. For a single book as a comfortable length for a single performer see Notopoulos 1964 and cf. Mazon 1942: 138 and Jensen in Jensen et al. 1999: 25–26.
[ back ] 25. See Frame 2009: 561–563 (§4.27) for speculative comments on how the books might have been distributed among the performers.
[ back ] 26. Cf. Wender 1978: 63–64: “The last episode of the Odyssey…is said to be lame, hasty, awkward, abrupt. I must admit that I agree. This last scene is the one part of the Conclusion which seems to me to bring Homer’s name scant credit, the one scene which I would like to imagine the dying poet entrusting to his dutiful but prosaic son, with instructions about necessary contents, but none, alas, about style.”
[ back ] 27. For the location of Panionion on the coast of Asia Minor see Frame 2009: 541–542 (§4.15) with n. 4.70. The location was identified west of Mt. Mykale in Güzel Çamlı in the nineteenth century; challenged in recent times, this location has been reconfirmed by Herda (Herda 2006b, 2009: 37–38).
[ back ] 28. For what Erechtheus had earlier been in relation to Athena Polias (a relationship still very much alive in the Ionian Odyssey), see Frame 2009 chs. 8 and 9 and 2015 with reference to Odyssey 7.80–81. As to the existence of an earlier version of the Athenian entry in the Ionian version of the catalogue of ships, I do not doubt that Athens and Attica were always part of this comprehensive presentation of Greek cities.
[ back ] 29. See Allen 1924: 234–238; cf. Frame 2009: 321 (§2.161) n. 2.225. See Dué and Ebbott 2010 for a detailed defense of Book 10 against claims of non-Homeric authorship.
[ back ] 30. Odyssey 11.225–332. See Frame 2009, Ch. 7 for the analysis; the restored Ionian version and the expanded Athenian version are displayed respectively on pp. 306–309 (§2.154) and pp. 314–317 (§2.159).
[ back ] 31. Explicit, indeed emphatic, in the passage is the role of Zeus as the father of Heracles.
[ back ] 32. See Frame 2009: 319 n. 220 (§2.160), 585–587 (§4.44).
[ back ] 33. So we learn later in the play, lines 280–283; cf. also lines 443–452.
[ back ] 34. As suggested by Sommerstein 1989: 11 and 2008: xxii–xxiv.
[ back ] 35. ὣς ἔφατ’ Ἀντίνοος· ὁ δ’ ἄρ’ οὐκ ἐμπάζετο μύθων.
κήρυκες δ’ ἀνὰ ἄστυ θεῶν ἱερὴν ἑκατόμβην
ἦγον· τοὶ δ’ ἀγέροντο κάρη κομόωντες Ἀχαιοὶ
ἄλσος ὕπο σκιερὸν ἑκατηβόλου Ἀπόλλωνος.
[ back ] 36. τὸν δ’ αὖτ’ Ἀντίνοος προσέφη, Εὐπείθεος υἱός·
“Εὐρύμαχ’, οὐχ οὕτως ἔσται· νοέεις δὲ καὶ αὐτός.
νῦν μὲν γὰρ κατὰ δῆμον ἑορτὴ τοῖο θεοῖο
ἁγνή· τίς δέ κε τόξα τιταίνοιτ’; ἀλλὰ ἕκηλοι
[ back ] 37. “οὗτος μὲν δὴ ἄεθλος ἀάατος ἐκτετέλεσται·
νῦν αὖτε σκοπὸν ἄλλον, ὃν οὔ πώ τις βάλεν ἀνήρ,
εἴσομαι, αἴ κε τύχωμι, πόρῃ δέ μοι εὖχος Ἀπόλλων.”
ἦ, καὶ ἐπ’ Ἀντινόῳ ἰθύνετο πικρὸν ὀϊστόν.
[ back ] 38. τοῦδ’ αὐτοῦ λυκάβαντος ἐλεύσεται ἐνθάδ’ Ὀδυσσεύς.
τοῦ μὲν φθίνοντος μηνός, τοῦ δ’ ἱσταμένοιο.
[ back ] 39. In Part III below a new etymology of lukabas is suggested which would link the word explicitly with the notion of darkness. Such a nuance in the word’s meaning is assumed in Stanley Lombardo’s rather free translation of the Odyssey lines: “Before this month is out Odysseus will come,/ In the dark of the moon, before the new crescent.”
[ back ] 40. ἀλλ’ ἄγετ’, οἰνοχόος μὲν ἐπαρξάσθω δεπάεσσιν,
ὄφρα σπείσαντες καταθείομεν ἀγκύλα τόξα·
ἠῶθεν δὲ κέλεσθε Μελάνθιον, αἰπόλον αἰγῶν,
αἶγας ἄγειν, αἳ πᾶσι μέγ’ ἔξοχοι αἰπολίοισιν,
ὄφρ’ ἐπὶ μηρία θέντες Ἀπόλλωνι κλυτοτόξῳ
τόξου πειρώμεσθα καὶ ἐκτελέωμεν ἄεθλον.
[ back ] 41. Odyssey 15.272–278. The kinsmen of Theoclymenus’ victim still pursue him when he encounters Telemachus and begs to be taken on board his ship. Seaford 1994: 28 n. 114 lists nine instances of exile after murder in Homer; in seven of these (including Theoclymenus) the exiled murderer is accepted into a new society: Iliad 2.661–670; 15.430–439; 16.571–576; 23.85–90; 24.480–483; Odyssey 14.380–381; 15.271–282 (cf. 529–538); in two instances such acceptance is not specifically mentioned: Iliad 13.694–697 and Odyssey 13.259–275.
[ back ] 42. Cf. Seaford 1994: 104 and Parker 1983: 130–137.
[ back ] 43. Odysseus purifies his palace with sulfur after the slaughter (Odyssey 22.481–482), but that is a different matter. As Parker 1983: 69 notes, physical purity is a constant concern in Homer; for example Achilles purifies his cup with sulfur before offering a libation to Zeus in Iliad 16.228. But more than physical purity seems to be at stake following the slaughter of the suitors; Parker comments on what he calls metaphysical purification and its complex relation to physical purification, and says that metaphysical purification, while not definitely present in Homer, also cannot be excluded from Homer.
[ back ] 44. This statement is qualified to a degree at §41 below.
[ back ] 45. Parker 1983: 130–143; cf. 66–70.
[ back ] 46. Parker 1983: 135, who proposes no specific Homeric context for the imagined rite.
[ back ] 47. The idea that Plato would not have questioned the genuineness of the second Nekyia, asserted at the outset of this paper, should be qualified to the extent that whatever information led Aristophanes and Aristarchus to report an ending to the poem in Book 23 could also have been available to Plato. What Plato thought about the Homeric text and how it came to be is an open question.
[ back ] 48. Cf. Kearns 1996b.
[ back ] 49. Theseus was purified at the altar of Zeus Meilichios (Pausanias 1.37.4) by the Phytalidai (Pausanias 1.37.4; Plutarch, Life of Theseus 12.1); the altar was near where the Sacred Way to Eleusis crossed the Cephissus river (cf. Frame 2009: 434 n. 173 [§3.66]).
[ back ] 50. Plutarch Life of Theseus 13; Philochorus FGrHist 328 F108 (= scholia to Euripides Hippolytus 35).
[ back ] 51. For the sources for the court in the classical era see Graf 1979: 14 n. 110. Demosthenes 23.74, after mention of the two other courts, says the following about the court in the Delphinion: τρίτον δ’ ἕτερον πρὸς τούτοις δικαστήριον, ὃ πάντων ἁγιώτατα τούτων ἔχει καὶ φρικωδέστατα, ἄν τις ὁμολογῇ μὲν κτεῖναι, ἐννόμως δὲ φῇ δεδρακέναι. τοῦτο δ’ ἐστὶ τοὐπὶ Δελφινίῳ, “Besides these two tribunals there is also a third, whose usages are still more sacred and awe-inspiring, for cases in which a man admits the act of slaying, but pleads that he slew lawfully. That is the court held at the Delphinium” [tr. J. H.Vince, Loeb edition, 1935].
[ back ] 52. According to Pausanias 1.28.10 Theseus’ trial was the origin of the court; before Theseus it was necessary to go into exile or, if one remained, to die: ἐπὶ Δελφινίῳ δὲ κρίσις καθέστηκεν ἐργάσασθαι φόνον σὺν τῷ δικαίῳ φαμένοις, ὁποῖόν τι καὶ Θησεὺς παρεχόμενος ἀπέφυγεν, ὅτε Πάλλαντα ἐπαναστάντα καὶ τοὺς παῖδας ἔκτεινε· πρότερον δὲ πρὶν ἢ Θησεὺς ἀφείθη, καθειστήκει πᾶσι φεύγειν κτείναντα ἢ κατὰ ταὐτὰ θνήσκειν μένοντα, “At Delphinium are tried those who claim that they have committed justifiable homicide, the plea put forward by Theseus when he was acquitted, after having killed Pallas, who had risen in revolt against him, and his sons. Before Theseus was acquitted it was the established custom among all men for the shedder of blood to go into exile, or, if he remained, to be put to a similar death” (tr. W. H. S. Jones, Loeb edition, 1918). In this passage Pausanias offers the only clearcut evidence that Theseus’ trial for the murder of the Pallantidai was the aition for the court in the Delphinion. Three other sources know of Theseus’ trial: Etymologicum Magnum 359.4, Ἐπὶ δελφινίῳ, makes the murder of the robbers Skeiron and Sinis, slain by Theseus on the road from Troezen to Athens, the reason for the trial; Pollux 8.119f. and scholia to Demosthenes 23.74 (see Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 1 [1877]:138) make the murder of both the Pallantidai and the robbers the reason for the trial. The question arises as to which set of murders committed by Theseus served as the real (i.e. most fitting) aition for the court in the Delphinion. Pausanias is surely right, that it was the murder of his cousins. For the murders that he committed on the road from Troezen to Athens Theseus was purified by the Phytalidai at the altar of Zeus Meilichios on the Cephissus river (see n. 49 above), the old boundary of Athens for those coming to the city from the west; cf. Frame 2009: 434 n. 173 (§3.66) for the importance of this site as a kind of “sacred quarantine station” which would have seen regular use by those returning to the city and in need of purification. Further expiation at the Delphinion for murders committed by Theseus before he entered the city would seem redundant.
[ back ] 53. Plutarch Theseus 13 narrates the slaying of the Pallantidai, which involves the discovery and annihilation of an ambush set for Theseus on the road to Athens east of the city, and the dispersal of a second set of conspirators under Pallas himself who were poised to seize the city.
[ back ] 54. Plutarch Theseus 12, which draws on the lost Aegeus of Euripides, is the only full account: Medea, married to Aegeus and hoping to give him a son by means of her witchcraft, recognizes who Theseus is and plots to kill him with poison. Theseus is invited to the Delphinion, which is Aegeus’ domicile, and when handed the poison he cannily draws his sword and is recognized by his father. Medea is a secondary addition to the story; her attempt to poison Theseus is seen as Euripides’ invention (Jacoby, commentary on Philochorus FGrHist 328 F 108, n. 3, p. 336, citing Wilamowitz 1925: 234 n. 3 [= 1971: 114 n.1]), the oldest evidence for it being fragments of Euripides’ Aegeus (the entrance of the unknown youth and the hostility of a stepmother, TGrF F 1 and F 4 Kannicht). The account in Apollodorus, Epitome 1.5, suggests Euripides by having Medea concoct two plots against Theseus, a duplication characteristic of Euripides: Aegeus, instigated by Medea, first sends Theseus against the Marathonian bull, and when Theseus returns successful, Aegeus tries to poison him with Medea’s poison. Jacoby notes that Callimachus in the Hecale (F 230 and F 260.5–15 Pfeiffer) “follows the earlier version [of the capture of the Marathonian bull], which does not know Medea’s attempt at poisoning Theseus.”
[ back ] 55. Levaniouk’s elegant demonstration should be read in its entirety. Particularly persuasive to my mind is the chapter titled “Younger Brother” (Levaniouk 2011: 56–81 [ch. 4]), which concerns Odysseus’ third Cretan lie, told to Penelope in Odyssey 19. By her interpretation Levaniouk situates this lie, one of several “less than obvious” details that together make her case, within the Odyssey’s larger and more obvious concern with rites of passage: “One of these less than obvious details is Odysseus’ role as a younger brother, and, linked to it, the complicated question of his age in general. In what follows I will suggest an admittedly unprovable, but, I think, logical hypothesis that this particular detail has to do with Odysseus’ role as a hero concerned with male maturation and one who emblematizes this process in epic. Such a role is, in turn, a crucial ingredient of Odysseus’ return and reinstatement as a king and Penelope’s husband” (Levaniouk 2011: 62).
[ back ] 56. A welcome change would be the removal of Dolios and his six sons, who seem to have been recruited to add numbers to Odysseus’ small war party (24.496–499). Dolios is otherwise Penelope’s gardener (4.735–737) and, more importantly, the father of two disloyal servants, Melantheus and Melantho (17.212; 18.321–325; 22.159), both brutally dealt with in the battle with the suitors (22.424–472; 22.473–476); the presence of Dolios on the side of Odysseus is thus at least somewhat odd (cf. West 1989: 124–125). Note also the phrase υἱεῖς οἱ Δόλιοιο to designate Dolios’ sons (24.497), a use of the definite article that looks more like Attic than Homeric Greek.
[ back ] 57. Stephanie West, in support of the idea that the Odyssey ended in Book 23, seeks to show that Laertes is not as well rooted in the rest of the Odyssey as generally thought and is therefore dispensable in Book 24 as well (West 1989). I do not deny that the presence of Laertes in Book 24 lacks strict narrative necessity; his presence goes rather to royal legitimacy, which is a deeper necessity.
[ back ] 58. See n. 23 above.
[ back ] 59. The comparison extends beyond the final book of each poem to include all four books of the final performance unit of each poem. The action is patterned similarly in the two poems, as the hero is unleashed at the start of the unit in Books XXI and xxi (Achilles drives the Trojans to their city gates, Odysseus strings the bow and sends an arrow through the axes); the hero then slays his foe in Books XXII and xxii (Achilles slays Hector, Odysseus slays the suitors); the hero’s main emotional attachment then takes center stage in Books XXIII and xxiii (Achilles’ final separation from Patroclus at Patroclus’ funeral, Odysseus’ reunion with Penelope in their bed chamber); the poems end, as said, with a tragic separation between a father and a son on the one hand, and a happy reunion between a father and a son on the other hand (Books XXIV and xxiv). This parallel storytelling, with pointed contrasts in the comparison between the final two books of each poem, has a pattern to it, a design. Griffin 2004: 74 makes a similar comparison between the endings of the two poems but sees the similarity as an argument for the genuineness of the Odyssey’s final scene: “…the parallel with the Iliad, in which two whole books follow the killing of Hector and re-establish harmony, first between Achilles and the other Greeks, and then between Achilles and his enemy’s father Priam, suggests that the truce-making and hatchet-burying of Book Twenty-Four really is part of the Odyssey. It ties up the ends, indeed, in a less profound and moving way than the last book of the Iliad, a supreme point in Homeric poetry; but it does give a reasonably satisfactory conclusion to the events of the poem.” In my view the assessment of the Odyssey’s final scene as “reasonably satisfactory” is not a convincing defense of its genuineness.
[ back ] 60. Not to be overlooked in the poems’ endings is the contrast between the poems’ two heroes: Odysseus, who is united with his father, and Achilles, who will not be reunited with his father; Peleus’ fated loss of Achilles is repeatedly linked with Priam’s loss of Hector in Iliad 24.
[ back ] 61. Graf 1979: 7: “Apollon Delphinios steht einerseits an manchen Orten in enger Beziehung zum staatlichen Leben der Gemeinde, die ihn verehrt; anderseits wird er gerne mit dem Ephebenalter und besonders mit den um diese kritische Zeit besorgten religiösen Institutionen verbunden.” A third aspect of Apollo Delphinios, rejected by Graf 1979: 5–7, 21 but affirmed by Alexander Herda, is a connection with the sea, going with this god’s role in colonization (Herda 2008: 15 n. 9 and passim, 2011: 78–79). Graf speaks of ephebes but Herda distinguishes between the class of ephebes and the class of neoi, “new citizens,” and associates the latter class with Apollo Delphinios in Miletus (see n. 97 below).
[ back ] 62. See Graf 1979: 14 for the myth found in Pausanias 1.19.1 in which Theseus heaves oxen over the roof of the Delphinion on his entry to Athens, an aition for the ephebes’ ritual of the “lifting of the oxen.” Even the feature of transvestism in the ephebes’ ritual is present in the story.
[ back ] 63. In Odyssey 22.5–7 Odysseus singles Apollo out as the source of his impending victory. As her title Eve of the Festival suggests Levaniouk puts great emphasis on Apollo’s role in the Odyssey, muted as it is; she writes in her conclusion, pp. 319–320: “The festival of Apollo in the Odyssey is the only festival of a god mentioned in Homer, and while its importance has long been recognized, its far-reaching effects are still not fully explored. The festival places Apollo in a role quite unlike that of Athena, Hermes, Zeus, or Poseidon, the gods who appear as characters in the poem. Apollo himself is conspicuously absent, and this physical absence paradoxically makes him into a particularly powerful divine presence in the Odyssey. Odysseus relates to Athena in a way that presumably no member of the audience could recognize from personal experience: Athena ordinarily does not come down to sit and talk with mortals under olive trees. Apollo, on the other hand, is present in the poem in a way much more recognizable as an actual religious experience, through manifestations of his power and through being worshipped at a festival.” Other festivals and festive occasions are mentioned incidentally in Homer, like the depiction of a wedding on the shield of Achilles (18.491–496) or the simile comparing the cry of a mortally wounded warrior to the sacrifice of a bull to Poseidon Helikonios (20.403–405), but Levaniouk’s point seems valid to me when it comes to the actual narrative, where the festival of Apollo stands apart.
[ back ] 64. Levaniouk, who sees the Odyssey as a poem concerned with male maturation (see n. 55 above), connects the place of Apollo in the poem with his function as the god of ephebes and the transition to adulthood. This function is associated with Apollo in general, but particularly with Apollo Delphinios (cf. Graf, cited in n. 61 above; cf. also Burkert 1985: 144–145).
[ back ] 65. See n. 33 above and cf. Burkert 1985: 148. As there is no other evidence for actual purification rituals at Delphi, Dyer 1969 argues that the Eumenides passage also does not entail one, but this is not a convincing reading of the text. A close association between Apollo Delphinios and Apollo Pythios in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo has been explored by Herda, who draws a striking parallel with Miletus, where the cult of Apollo Delphinios is connected with another cult of Apollo in Didyma (Herda 2005: 287–289; 2006a: 107, 170, 269–277; cf. also 2016: 17). In both cases, Miletus and Delphi in the Homeric hymn, there is a procession connecting the two cults.
[ back ] 66. For the workings of the Delphinion court—the little that is known—, cf. Dyer 1969: 47–49; as at Delphi, there is no evidence for actual purification rituals in the Delphinion (Dyer p. 49).
[ back ] 67. See Graf 1979: 3–4 for cults of Apollo Delphinios in Ionia and Crete. The origins of the cult are unclear. Apollo himself seems to have arisen in the first millennium BC, and it has been suggested that he was fused with a second-millennium pre-Dorian god Delphinios (Graf 1979: 21; cf. Herda 2006a: 275). For Apollo’s first-millennium Dorian origins see Burkert 1975, supported by Graf 1979: 21 n. 158, and Nagy 2004, ch. 7: “The Name of Apollo: Etymology and Essence” (online Herda prefers a second-millennium Anatolian origin for Apollo (Herda 2008: 15, 2011: 58) and sees an Anatolian element in the origins of a separate god Delphinios as well (Herda 2008: 15; cf. 2006a: 275 n. 1942).
[ back ] 68. Graf 1979: 7 calls Miletus “das wohl deutlichste Beispiel” of the cult’s political aspect. Since Graf’s study the cult of Apollo Delphinios in Miletus has been the subject of greatly expanded study by Herda, in particular Herda 2006a, also 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2019.
[ back ] 69. See §13 above for the river god Enipeus in the Ionian version of the catalogue and significance of this god for the Neleids, the royal family of Miletus.
[ back ] 70. Later also called the stephanephoros; see Herda 2011: 60 and 2016: 37–38 with n. 97 for use of the two terms in the Molpoi decree; see below in text for this decree and Herda’s exhaustive study of it (Herda 2006a).
[ back ] 71. Other examples of the sanctuary’s political role: state treaties and decrees of other cities honoring Milesian judges were set up in the Delphinion; the Molpoi, who controlled the right of citizenship, recorded the granting of citizenship and proxeny in the Delphinion. See Graf 1979: 7–8; Herda 2005: 248–250, 2008: 16–17, 2011: 57–58 with n. 4.
[ back ] 72. For the foundation of the Milesian colony of Sinope in 630 BC as a terminus ante quem for the institutions of the aisymnētēs and the Molpoi, see Herda 2005: 290, 2006a: 18–19, 2016: 41; cf. also Frame 2009: 591 n. 172. The list of aisymnētai found in the Delphinion going back to 525/4 BC thus does not represent the beginning of the office (cf. Graf 1979: 7). Herda 2016: 41, 109–110, suggests that the earliest terminus ante quem for the institutions in Miletus may be the foundation of the colony of Kyzikos in c. 680.
[ back ] 73. Leodamas and his rival (called Phitres by Conon, Amphitres by Nikolaos) were sent out on foreign campaigns, the context of which was most likely the Lelantine war or the period leading up to the war (see Frame 2009: 592 [§4.50], 2018: n. 35, and forthcoming). Photius’ summary of Conon, FGrHist 26 F 1 xliv, narrates these events: Λεωδάμας καὶ Φίτρης ἤρισαν ὑπὲρ τῆς Μιλησίων βασιλείας γένους ἄμφω ὄντε βασιλείου. τὸ κοινὸν δὲ τῇ ἐκείνων κακούμενοι στάσει τῆς μὲν φιλονεικίας μετὰ πολλὰ πάθη ἐξίσταντο, ἔκρινον δ’ ἐκεῖνον βασιλεύειν ὃς Μιλησίους πλείω ἀγαθὰ ἐργάσαιτο. ἦσαν δ’ αὐτοῖς τότε δύο πόλεμοι Καρυστίοις καὶ Μηλιεῦσι. Καὶ πρὸς μὲν Μῆλον (αὐτῷ γὰρ ὁ κλῆρος τοῦτον ἐδίδου τὸν πόλεμον) Φίτρης στρατεύσας ἄπρακτος ἀναστρέφει. Λεωδάμας δὲ λαμπρῶς κατὰ Καρυστίων ἀνδραγαθήσας καὶ κατὰ κράτος ἑλὼν τὴν πόλιν καὶ ἀνδραποδισάμενος, Μιλήτου ἐπανιὼν κατὰ τὰ συγκείμενα βασιλεύει, “Leodamas and Phitres quarreled over the kingship of the Milesians, both being of the royal family. [The Milesians], suffering in common from the quarrel, freed themselves from the strife after many woes, deciding that he who did the Milesians more good would rule. At that time they had two wars, against the Melians and the Carystians. Phitres fought against Melos [Melia?] (he was given that war by lot) and returned unsuccessful. But Leodamas performed brilliantly against the Carystians, taking and enslaving their city, and when he returned he became king of Miletus according to the agreement.” (The context for Conon’s narrative is a foundation myth: Leodamas supposedly brought back from Carystus the ancestor of the Euangelidai, a priesthood in Didyma, as a slave.)
[ back ] 74. Nikolaos of Damascus FGrHist 90 F 52: Λεωδάμας ἐβασίλευσε Μιλησίων καὶ ἐν τοῖς μάλιστα ἐπῃνεῖτο, δίκαιός τε ὢν καὶ τῇ πόλει καταθύμιος, εἰς ὃ φόνον αὐτῷ βουλεύσας Ἀμφιτρὴς ἐν ἑορτῇ Ἀπόλλωνος ἄγοντα ἑκατόμβην τῷ θεῷ Λεωδάμαντα κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἀπέκτεινεν, αὐτὸς δὲ μετὰ τῶν αὐτοῦ στασιωτῶν τὴν πόλιν κατελάβετο, καὶ τύραννος ἐγένετο, ἰσχύϊ προὔχων Μιλησίων, “Leodamas was king of the Milesians and he was among the most praised, being both just and after the heart of the city, until Amphitres plotted his murder and killed him at the festival of Apollo as he drove a hecatomb for the god along the road, and he himself seized the city with his faction and became tyrant, holding the chief place among the Milesians by force.”
[ back ] 75. The aisymnētēs who was chosen, named Epimenes, was given power to execute anyone he wished; when the followers of Amphitres fled, Epimenes confiscated their property and offered a reward to whoever killed them; Nikolaos F 53, who gives these details, concludes: οἱ μὲν δὴ Νηλεῖδαι κατελύθησαν ὧδε, “thus were the Neleids removed from power.”
[ back ] 76. Herda 2006a: 174 n. 1248 notes that an assassination inside the city would have risked a popular uprising (Leodamas was a popular king); religious processions outside the city were safer for the purpose, as in the assassination of Hipparchus before a Panathenic procession (Thucydides 1.20.2).
[ back ] 77. Herda 2006a: 175, citing de Polignac 1984 [1995] and 1994, whose theoretical model is substantiated by Herda’s study as a whole.
[ back ] 78. The inscription is dated c.200 BC mainly on paleographic but also historical grounds; see Herda 2006a: 16, 2011: 58 with n. 11, 2019: 100 n. 60. The original text dates from the sixth century; later additions were made to this text, the earliest in 476/5; see Herda 2006a: 17, 2011: 18 n. 12. The whole text was redacted in 447/46 BC; see Herda 2006a: 15–20, 425–427 with Table 1, 2011: 58, 2019: 100–101.
[ back ] 79. Herda 2006a: 178 counters the assumption that the so-called Road IV leading northwest from the temple of Apollo in Didyma establishes a mid-sixth-century beginning for the procession; he argues that the road was not first built but rather improved at this date as part of a general trend toward monumentalization seen elsewhere in the sanctuary. The road may thus have originated at an earlier unknown date. The road linking Didyma with Miletus went first to the coast at Panormos before turning inland again toward Miletus; delegations from other cities to the oracle at Didyma landed at Panormos, as did marble for building projects. Could this port also have served a hypothetical predecessor of Panionion at Didyma? Cf. n. 90 below.
[ back ] 80. A group of five proshetairoi also took office; for both the aisymnētēs and the proshetairoi see Herda 2006a: 31–34, 2011: 60–65, 2016: 37–39.
[ back ] 81. The number of Molpoi, which is not indicated in the decree, included the aisymnētēs and the five proshetairoi and at least one more member: the section of the decree about the obligations of the city of Miletus on the holidays of the Targelia, Metageitnia, and Hebdomaia (l.20ff.) says that “the king (ὁ βασιλεὺς) attends, but he does not receive more than the other Molpoi (τῶν ἀλλῶν Μολπῶν).” Miletus, like Athens, seems to have kept the kingship in a religious function after the end of the monarchy, and in Miletus this βασιλεὺς was one of the Molpoi; see Herda 2006a: 121.
[ back ] 82. Additions made to the original text are themselves adaptations to new situations; see n. 78 above. There are aspects of the cult regulation which look as though they go back to time immemorial, for example the ritual concerned with the maturation of male youth; for Herda’s reconstruction of the Hamillētēria, see his 2006a: 48, 84–118 and 2011: 63–65.
[ back ] 83. The festival was from the seventh to the tenth of Taureon, in April-May; the seventh was specifically the festival of the Hebdomaia, connected with Apollo’s birthday, the seventh of every month: see Herda 2006a: 38 with n. 167 for the date and name, and 2006a: 38–44, 247–249 and 2011: 60 for the festival of the Hebdomaia itself; for the whole four-day festival in Miletus, see Herda 2006a: 38–167, 237–249.
[ back ] 84. See §8 above on the twelve performance units of the two poems combined; this model has been adopted by Nagy 2010: 22, 214, 224‒232, 320‒321 and Herda (Herda and Sauter 2009: 67 with n. 90; Herda 2013: 427 with n. 25; 2021).
[ back ] 85. See Frame 2009: 515–528 (§4.2–§4.8) on the myth of the Ionian cities’ Codrid founders.
[ back ] 86. For Nestōr as “he who brings back,” see Frame 2009, chs. 2 and 6, and for Nestor’s genealogy as the basis of Alcinous’ genealogy, ch. 7, in particular pp. 244–254 (§2.110– §2.116).
[ back ] 87. See Frame 2009: 341–372 (§3.1– §3.23) and 2015 on Odyssey 7.89–90, Athena’s departure from Scheria to Athens and her entry into the palace of Erechtheus; cf. n. 28 above.
[ back ] 88. Apart from these three figures the Phaeacians have names related to the sea and sea-faring all but entirely (cf. Frame 2009: 252 n. 2.152 and 593 n. 4.179): there are eighteen figures with such names, including Nausicaa. Nausicaa is part of the Phaeacian masquerade, but unlike the three other figures in her family, she has nothing to do with Panionian identity; Nausicaa’s mask is instead Panhellenic (see Frame 2009: 372–391 (§3.24– §3.38, and 2015). For the name Rhexenor of Alcinous’ brother, see the following note.
[ back ] 89. Alcinous’ deceased brother Rhēxēnor, “breaker of men,” is particularly significant for Nestor’s twin myth; he corresponds to Nestor’s dead warrior brother Periclymenos. See Frame 2009: 251–253 (§2.115), 254 (§2.117).
[ back ] 90. Leodamas most likely led the conquest of Melia, which became the site of Panionion; Didyma, in the territory of Miletus, perhaps preceded Panionion as a proto-Panionic site; see Frame 2009: 613–620 (§4.67– §4.70).
[ back ] 91. Other cities had cults of Apollo Delphinios that could equally have been evoked, for example Chios and Erythrai, both members of the Panionion; cf. Graf 1979: 3.
[ back ] 92. Vergil in the Aeneid does not hesitate to honor Augustus openly, and the contrast with the veiled presence of Leodamas in the Odyssey bespeaks the difference between Rome, master of the world, and the Ionian dodecapolis, an entity in the perhaps delicate process of being formed. Any suggestion of domination would have been counterproductive and unwelcome. For another example of lightness of touch with respect to the role of Miletus, cf. §13 and n. 69 above on the river god Enipeus in the catalogue of heroines, and for other examples see Frame 2009: 105–338 (chs. 5–8) on Nestor’s Homeric role generally.
[ back ] 93. See n. 83 above. Herda 2006a identifies the festival in Miletus as a New Year festival, as his title indicates: Der Apollon-Delphinios-Kult in Milet und die Neujahrsprozession nach Didyma. Herda 2006a: 176–177 compares the festival of Apollo in the Odyssey with the festival in Miletus.
[ back ] 94. Reservations about Greek New Year festivals and Herda’s treatment of the festival in Miletus as (part of) one have been expressed by Parker 2008: 179 and Chaniotis 2010: 377. Herda 2011: 60 n. 13 defends the concept of a New Year festival, pointing out that “the change from one year to the other was definitely marked by religious festivals and other rituals in a ‘festival cycle’: for example the relighting of the altars, the exchange of the eponymoi and other magistrates, the integration of citizen groups, etc.” (For the relighting of altars in Didyma on the last day of the festival see Herda 2011: 65 with n. 41.) A graffito calendar from the Milesian colony of Olbia shows, significantly, that Taureon was the first month of the Milesian year; see Herda 2006a: 38, 524 fig. 7, 2011: 60. In his review of Herda Chaniotis makes the point that the new year in Miletus, as elsewhere in the Greek world, should have begun on the first of a month rather than the seventh. This suggests that the full new year festival in Miletus actually began with the new moon on the first of Taureon (cf. n. 120 below for a parallel situation in Teos), but that this part of the festival simply was not regulated in the Molpoi inscription. In a personal communication of March 5, 2020 Herda agrees with the idea that a noumēnia festival for Apollo noumēnios on the first of Taureon would have been part of the new year festival. While defending the concept of a new year festival Herda nevertheless acceded to Parker’s suggestion (Parker 2005: 210–211) that “festivals of renewal” may be a better term than “New Year festival” for the phenomenon.
[ back ] 95. See Austin 1975: 246–247; cf. also Borthwick 1988. Note Book 22.240 in particular, where Athena metamorphoses into a swallow, the bird par excellence signaling spring; in 21.411 Odysseus’ bow sings like a swallow; in 19.519-520 Penelope compares herself to a nightingale in early spring; there are further references to spring in 18.367 (Odysseus issues a quasi-challenge to Eurymachus to compete in springtime field work), and 22.299-301 (the suitors are routed like cattle in spring).
[ back ] 96. In Odyssey 11.190–196 Anticleia describes Laertes as sleeping in the dust near the fire in winter, but on the ground in his orchard in summer. It is of course day and not night when Laertes enters the story in Book 24, so the point cannot be pressed. Spring seems to arrive suddenly in the story if there are still long nights (νύκτες ἀθέσφατοι) when Odysseus is in Eumaeus’ hut, with ample time for both storytelling and sleep, 15.392–393. It is not strict time-reckoning that conditions the change of season and the coming of spring, but the tenor of the story.
[ back ] 97. See Herda 2006a: 91–96, who equates the neoi with the Spartan age class of that name.
[ back ] 98. See Herda 2006a: 47–48 for the absence of this rite from the decree; I paraphrase his comments as follows: The Milesian school year for the ephebes ended in the last month of the year, Artemision. Their admission among the “new” (unmarried) citizens, the νέοι , can thus have taken place only in the first month of the year, Taureon, in which the Hebdomaia also took place. It is unclear on what day exactly this admission occurred, which would have included the oath of the new citizens to the Milesian constitution in the context of a religious ceremony. A date before the Hebdomaia is conceivable, perhaps the first of Taureon, but some time during the new year festival (7th–9th of Taureon) is not to be excluded. But in that case it is noteworthy that the Molpoi inscription does not address it. The possibility that the admission took place on the first of Taureon, and that the New Year festival began with the new moon, will be considered below.
[ back ] 99. The Hamillētēria took place on the tenth of Taureon, the fourth day of the festival; see Herda 2006a: 48, 84–118 and 2011: 63–65, who interprets the event as a contest among choruses of neoi from the different tribes, which would have rotated with each other from year to year in the performance of paeans in the form of round dances; he compares the dancing of the Phaeacian youths in the Odyssey, where the competing performers are called kouroi rather than neoi, terms considered interchangeable by Herda (note that in Odyssey 8.202 the youths taking part in the discus competition are called neoi rather than kouroi, proving the point). The tenth of Taureon was also the day of the procession to Didyma and the rites in Didyma (these rites are not dealt with in the Molpoi decree); the Hamillētēria most likely took place in a pannychis the night before, which in sacral calendar reckoning would have counted as the start of the next day, the tenth (Herda 2006a: 169 with n. 1217); Herda 2006a: 115–118 makes a striking comparison with a night festival in Athens preceding the Panathenaic procession and featuring contests among youths.
[ back ] 100. Odyssey 18.269–270: αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν δὴ παῖδα γενειήσαντα ἴδηαι, / γήμασθ’ ᾧ κ’ ἐθέλῃσθα, τεὸν κατὰ δῶμα λιποῦσα, “But when you see our son grown up and bearded, then you may / marry whatever man you please, forsaking your household.”
[ back ] 101. See Auffarth 1991: 426–427 for the significance of the festival for Telemachus, namely “Aufnahme unter die Männer”; cf. Hölscher 1990: 256 for the beard as the criterion for becoming an ephebe: “Der Termin der Mannbarkeit richtete sich bei den Griechen nie nach dem individuellen Geburtstag…sondern nach der körperlichen Konstitution. Der Bartwuchs war dabei das wichtigste Kriterium;” cf. also Herda 2006a: 95 n. 613 for the beard of Apollo.
[ back ] 102. It is a fact, perhaps significant, that in the aftermath of Leodamas’ assassination in Miletus, the whole party of the assassin Amphitres was proscribed or exiled, but the same is not said of the sons of Leodamas, who had avenged their father by killing Amphitres. In Nikolaos FGrHist 90 F 52 the victory in battle of the sons of Leodamas is ascribed to the arrival of the cult of the Kabeiroi from Phrygia, and nothing is said about a need for expiation. The armed people of Assessos, where the sons of Leodamas had taken refuge, won the battle against an enemy panicked by the arrival of the Kabeiroi, but it was explicitly the sons of Leodamas who killed Amphitres: οἱ δ’ ἑπόμενοι τοὺς μὲν ἔσφαττον, τοὺς δ’ ἐδίωκον· Ἀμφιτρὴν δ’ οἱ Λεωδάμαντος παῖδες κτείνουσι, καὶ ὁ πόλεμος καὶ ἡ τυραννὶς ἐπέπαυτο Μιλησίοις. Does this imply that the killing of Amphitres, in contrast to the killing of Leodamas, was regarded as justified murder? It is a further fact that the Neleid family continued to live and hold prominent positions in Miletus long after the monarchy ended, though this does not necessarily mean that the family was exonerated at the time of Amphitres’ murder. For the later history of the Neleids see Frame 2009: 591 n. 172 (§4.49).
[ back ] 103. Plutarch Theseus 14.1: ὁ δὲ Θησεὺς ἐνεργὸς εἶναι βουλόμενος, ἅμα δὲ καὶ δημαγωγῶν, ἐξῆλθεν ἐπὶ τὸν Μαραθώνιον ταῦρον, οὐκ ὀλίγα πράγματα τοῖς οἰκοῦσι τὴν Τετράπολιν παρέχοντα, καὶ χειρωσάμενος ἐπεδείξατο ζῶντα διὰ τοῦ ἄστεος ἐλάσας, εἶτα τῷ Ἀπόλλωνι τῷ Δελφινίῳ κατέθυσεν, “But Theseus, desiring to be at work, and at the same time courting the favour of the people, went out against the Marathonian bull, which was doing no small mischief to the inhabitants of the Tetrapolis. After he had mastered it, he made a display of driving it alive through the city, and then sacrificed it to the Delphinian Apollo” (tr. Bernadotte Perrin, Loeb edition, 1914).
[ back ] 104. Plutarch presumably knew the tradition for Theseus’ trial in the Delphinion, as reported by Pausanias and others (cf. n. 52 above). In Plutarch Theseus sets out against the Marathonian bull immediately after defeating his cousins (Theseus 13–14); the offering of the bull seems to take the place of the trial in this version.
[ back ] 105. Theseus’ exploit with the Marathonian bull relates to his synoikismos insofar as Marathon was one of the twelve towns that he united (Philochorus FGrHist 328 F 94).
[ back ] 106. According to Jacoby the inclusion of pre-Dorian Megara in Pandion’s kingdom dates this myth to the period between the mid-seventh and mid-sixth centuries BC, when Athens and Megara made claims and counter claims to the territory between them; Jacoby ascribes such claims to what he calls λόγιοι ἄνδρες (commentary on Philochorus, FGrHist 328 F 107, pp. 430–431; for his term λόγιοι ἄνδρες cf. also his commentary on Philochorus F 108, n. 8, p. 337).
[ back ] 107. See Frazer 1921: 2.113 n. 4 on Apollodorus 3.15.5 for the sources. In Apollodorus Pandion’s sons are named but not their respective regions; the regions are specified in the scholia to Lysistrata 58: Πανδίων…. ἔνειμε τὴν χώραν τοῖς παισὶν εἰς δʹμοίρας· Αἰγεῖ μὲν τὴν παρὰ τὸ ἄστυ μέχρι Πυθίου, Πάλλαντι δὲ τὴν Παραλίαν, Λύκῳ δὲ τὴν Διακρίαν, Νίσῳ δὲ τὴν Μεγαρίδα, “Pandion distributed the country to his sons in four shares: to Aegeus he gave the country by the city as far as the Pythion, to Pallas the Paralia, to Lycus the Diakria, and to Nisus the Megaris”; and scholia to Wasps 1223: τὴν δὲ χώραν τὴν Διακρίαν Πανδίονά φασι τοῖς υἱοῖς διανείμαντα τὴν ἀρχὴν Λύκῳ δοῦναι, Αἰγεῖ δὲ τὴν περὶ τὸ ἄστυ, Πάλλαντι δὲ τὴν Παραλίαν, Νίσῳ δὲ τὴν Μεγαρίδα, “They say that when Pandion divided his rule among his sons he gave the country of the Diakria to Lycus, that around the city to Aegeus, the Paralia to Pallas, and the Megaris to Nisus.”
[ back ] 108. “Rather awkwardly” is Emily Kearns’ characterization (Kearns 1996a). The connection of Pallas with Pallene is considered genuine by Jacoby, commentary on Philochorus FGrHist 328 F 108, n. 8, p. 337.
[ back ] 109. According to the Sophocles fragment (TGrF F 24 Radt, Strabo 9.1.6), Pandion marked out for Aegeus, the speaker of the fragment, “the shore, giving me the best part of this land” (ἀκτὰς, πρεσβεῖα νείμας τῆσδε γῆς), while “this rugged Pallas, breeder of giants, inherited the southerly part of the land” (γῆς τὸ πρὸς νότον / ὁ σκληρὸς οὗτος καὶ γίγαντας ἐκτρέφων /εἴληχε Πάλλας). Why Sophocles calls the best part, which must include the city of Athens, the shore rather than the plain, its usual designation, is puzzling, but the description of Pallas’ share as “the part of the land toward the south” (γῆς τὸ πρὸς νότον) could indicate Pallene; the shore, thus disassociated from Pallas, presumably went to Aegeus together with Athens in this version of the myth. Sophocles first attests the tradition for the Pallantidai as giants; this feature apparently follows the pattern of the monsters slain by Theseus in his role as a second Heracles.
[ back ] 110. Herodotus 1.59.
[ back ] 111. Called the hyperakria by Herodotus.
[ back ] 112. Kearns 1996a comments on what she calls an “oblique” connection between the historical three-party strife and the myth of Pandion’s sons.
[ back ] 113. Strife between the parties must have begun some time before 560 BC. Jacoby, commentary on Philochorus FGrHist 328 F 107, p. 431, envisions a period of two or three generations before the first attestation, so roughly the period 630–560 BC. Cf. n. 106 above for the Pandion myth as having arisen in roughly the same period.
[ back ] 114. For the Eteoboutad pedigree of Lycurgus, see Davies 1971: 348–353; Thomas 1989: 192–193; and cf. Frame 2009: 448 [§3.73] n. 198.
[ back ] 115. The events and party alignments as narrated by Herodotus are summarized by Thomas 1996: “When Pisistratus seized power (c. 560), Megacles joined with Lycurgus to expel him, but then helped him to a second period of tyranny on condition that Pisistratus married his daughter. This led to a further quarrel and Pisistratus again retired before a combination of the other two factions (c. 556).”
[ back ] 116. Uncertainty remains as to how the myth of Pandion would have developed in the period after the Cylonian affair. If Pallas was originally associated with Pallene, what would the myth of the division of Attica into four regions have looked like? How was Pallas subsequently shifted to the shore? Were his sons seen as monsters before being identified with the Alcmaeonids?
[ back ] 117. There was a third alternative, knowledge of which reached the Hellenistic age, that the poem could be terminated at 23.296, but the Athenian state text did not adopt this makeshift alternative.
[ back ] 118. See n. 98 above. The ephebes’ education ended in Artemision, the last month of the Milesian year, and their admission as new citizens must therefore have taken place in Taureon, the first month of the year (see Herda 2006a: 47 and n. 233).
[ back ] 119. The Hamillētēria on the tenth are contests among the neoi; see n. 99 above.
[ back ] 120. See Herda 2006a: 47–48. A parallel can be found in the Panionic city of Teos, where the graduating ephebes (the new kouroi) offered sacrifices on the first of Leukatheon, the first month of the year, at the “common hearth” (κοινὴ ἑστία) in the prytaneion; Herda 2006a: 48 n. 236, citing Graf 1985: 406: “In Teos, wo das Fest der Λευκάθεα bezeugt is, wenn auch ohne genaueres Datum, ist der Leukatheon der erste Monat des Jahres, an dessen νουμηνία die austretenden Epheben an der κοινὴ ἑστία im Rathaus opfern, derart ihren Eintritt in die Rechte der erwachsenen Vollbürger markieren.”
[ back ] 121. Leumann 1950: 212 n. 4 also makes the point that the dramatic context in Odyssey 19 requires the meaning “new moon” rather than “year;” the counter-argument in Ruijgh 1957: 147, that prophecies are meant to be vague, is not convincing in this case: Odysseus specifies the time of his arrival and leaves in suspense, not when, but how this can come about. Penelope takes the cue when she waits no longer to act. Koller 1973: 31 has suggested how the meaning “new moon” might have developed into “year”: a repeated phrase in the poet Nonnus, λυκάβαντα δυωδεκάμηνον, would originally have meant “new moon after twelve months,” but would then have come to mean “year of twelve months,” the meaning in Nonnus.
[ back ] 122. A noun λύκη, “light,” is inferred from the Homeric phrase ἀμφιλύκη νύξ, “morning twilight” (Iliad 7.433).The adjective has been explained by Bechtel, Lexilogus zu Homer, as coming from an earlier phrase ἀμφὶ λύκην νύξ, “night at morning twilight.” The Indo-European root in question occurs in Greek λευκός, “white,” and Λυκίη, “Light-land, Lycia.”
[ back ] 123. Koller 1973 proposes this etymology for lukabas.
[ back ] 124. The notion of “sunset” occurs frequently in both Homeric poems; it is expressed eleven times by the accusative phrase ἐς ἠέλιον καταδύντα and four times by the dative phrase ἅμα δ’ ἠελίῳ καταδύντι.
[ back ] 125. Koller went beyond Bechtel’s reconstruction of the phrase ἀμφὶ λύκην νύξ in Iliad 7.433 (n. 122 above), noting that this line anomalously has no verb, and proposed to read ἔτι δ’ ἀμφὶ λύκ’ ἦν νύξ, where the elided λύκ’ is the same accusative singular as proposed in his reconstruction of lukabas (Koller, pp. 32–33).
[ back ] 126. Chantraine 2009 s.v., who does not support any explanation proposed so far, including that λυκάβας is “Aegean” (cf. Λυκαβεττός), says of Koller’s proposal “mieux” but no more. Frisk 1960–1972 s.v. calls all explanations as of his date “wenig überzeugend,” and Beekes 2010 s.v. calls all existing explanations, including Koller’s, “unconvincing.”
[ back ] 127. See Chantraine 2009 s.v.: “La consonne finale du thème de καλύπτω reste mal définie (sourde, sonore ou aspirée);” Lejeune 1972: 79 n. 6, pointing out that there is no certain example in Greek of -βy- > -πτ-, disfavors -β- in the etymology of καλύπτω.
[ back ] 128. Chantraine 2009 s.v. καλύπτω: “…il existe des dérivés avec labiale sonore ou aspirée. Avec une sonore, des termes de sens concret: la série la plus importante a pour point de départ καλύβη ‘cabane, hutte’ (Hdt., Th.).” The aspirate occurs in e.g. περι-καλυφή, “wrapping, covering” (Plato, Laws). Lejeune 1972: 79 n. 6 regards the -β- in καλύβη as secondary; cf. n. 127 above. Beekes regards the root as pre-Greek because of the variation of the final consonant and a variation καλυ-/κολυ- in a pair of masculine nouns related to καλύβη, a characteristic of pre-Greek (see Beekes 2010 s.vv. καλύπτω and καλύβη).
[ back ] 129. Chantraine 1933: 269 includes τάλαντα among forms with the suffix -αντ-. Chantraine 2009 s.v. ταλάσσαι again seems to assume the suffix -αντ-: “Τάλαντα est habituellement considéré comme une formation de participe issue de ταλα-, mais rien ne prouve qu’il s’agisse d’un participe car ταλα- n’est pas proprement un thème verbal, toutefois cf. les composés en -δάμας, ἀκάμας, etc.” The thematic singular τάλαντον was back-formed from the athematic plural τάλαντα.
[ back ] 130. “A mist of darkness clouded both eyes” (Iliad 4.461); “the darkness of night misted over his eyes” (13.580); “over both his eyes/ dark night misted” (14.438-439); “now fulfillment of death was a darkness upon them” (5.553).
[ back ] 131. In καλύβη, “hut,” the basic etymological sense is presumably “covering, shelter,” but a connotation of darkness may also be present through association with the verb καλύπτω. It is intriguing, but perhaps fanciful, to speculate about a possible association with *καλύβας, “dark of the moon,” in the following occurrence of καλύβη in the Hellenistic poet Leonidas of Tarentum: Anthologia Palatina 7.295 is an epitaph for a humble fisherman who died, not while plying his trade, but in his καλύβη made of reeds after a long life, like a lamp going out at last by itself: ἀλλ ̓ ἔθαν ̓ ἐν καλύβῃ σχοινίτιδι, λύχνος ὁποῖα,/ τῷ μακρῷ σβεσθεὶς ἐν χρόνῳ αὐτόματος.
[ back ] 132. The intended effect can be humorous, as in the quip “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” A different kind of example, with a change in the order of consonants rather than syllables, may be seen in the name of the character Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which appears to be a deformation of the word “cannibal,” newly entered into European languages after encounter with the Caribes in the West Indies; see OED s.v. “cannibal” for the different forms that the name Caribes took in different places, including the form Canibales first recorded by Columbus; the OED s.v. “Caliban” proposes that Caliban may have been another form of the tribe’s name, but I prefer to see it as Shakespeare’s coinage, a deformation of the word “cannibal” with full awareness of that word’s origin. Laura Massetti has drawn my attention to a closer parallel to my suggestion for λυκάβας in the name of a Lithuanian fire god whose name has two forms, each reversing the order of syllables of the other, Gab-jaujis and Ja-gaubis (<*Jau-gabis); see Greimas 1984: 61. Other examples come to mind. One such is the title of the 2008 film “Synecdoche, New York”, with a play on the name Schenectady, a city in New York State. Another example suggests itself in the Sanskrit original of Bhagavadgita 11.32a (Mahabharata 6.33.32a), a verse memorably invoked by J. Robert Oppenheimer with reference to the nuclear bomb, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” In Sanskrit the verse, an epic triṣṭubh, opens with the five-syllable sequence kālo ’smi loka-, in which ’smi, “I am,” separates kālo, “time/death” from loka-, “world”, the latter forming the first part of a compound adjective, lokakṣayakṛt, “world-destruction making.” The reversal of syllables in kālo– loka curiously resembles the proposed metathesis from kalu to luka in the etymology of lukabas.
[ back ] 133. This makes the lies seem truthful; in Odysseus’ tale of his wanderings, which purports to be the truth, the places are all fictions; for this deliberate contrast cf. Frame 2020.
[ back ] 134. In his lie to Laertes Odysseus claims to have been blown off course to Ithaca after leaving Σικανίη, which can only mean Sicily and thus implies a voyage to Ithaca from the west; see Frame 2020: 371 for Calypso and the Phaeacians, both set in an imaginary world, as nonetheless thought of as somehow lying in the west with respect to Ithaca. Alfred Heubeck (Heubeck et al. 1992, vol. 3, 395) notes the place names in Western Greece formed with an -αντ- suffix (Τάρας, -αντος, Ἀκράγας, -αντος) as possibly influencing the choice of the name Ἀλύβας, -αντος. Such place names might have played a part in turning *καλύβας, a lunar phenomenon, into *Καλύβας, the name of an imaginary place in the west. Clearly also relevant to this suggestion of a place-name *Καλύβας is the name of the goddess Καλυψώ.
[ back ] 135. 24.311–313. Leonard Muellner points out to me that a place named *Καλύβας, from which Odysseus was seen departing five years earlier, would have suggested the goddess Καλυψώ, from whose cave the real Odysseus departed only recently. The suggestion of the goddess Calypso would be reinforced by Laertes’ reaction to the tale a few lines later, as “a black cloud of grief covered him” (ὣς φάτο, τὸν δ’ ἄχεος νεφέλη ἐκάλυψε μέλαινα, 24.315). The name *Καλύβας and its associations would make the extravagance of Laertes’ reaction to the news of Odysseus’ last sighting (he wails and pours dust over his head as if has just learned of his son’s death, 24.316–317) more understandable. Laertes’ grief has to be extreme in order to make Odysseus drop his disguise and reveal himself to his father.
[ back ] 136. In terms of folk etymology a connection with ἀλάομαι, “to wander,” works well for the sense, but ἀλύω, “be distraught,” is closer for the form.
[ back ] 137. I note for what it is worth the epigram of Callimachus in which the word καλός, when reflected in an echo, changes into ἄλλος, the initial κ- being lost in the echo (Epigram 2.5–6 Gow-Page = 28.5–6 Pfeiffer): [ back ]
Λυσανίη, σὺ δὲ ναίχι καλὸς καλὸς· ἀλλὰ πρὶν εἰπεῖν
τοῦτο σαφῶς ἠχώ φησί τις “ἄλλος ἔχει.”Lusanias, you are very beautiful, beautiful. But before
saying [= I have said] this clearly, an echo says ‘another has him’.For a different interpretation, in which ἠχώ instead of an understood ‘me’ is subject of the infinitive εἰπεῖν, see Anderson 2021: 44–45. As Gregory Nagy has pointed out to me, Ovid in the story of Echo and Narcissus also has examples of the beginning of an utterance being lost in an echo (Metamorphoses 3.380, 3.386–387, 3.391–392; cf. 3.368–369). In Homer there is a curious parallel with admittedly minimal relevance to my suggestion for Ἀλύβας: in Iliad 2.857, in the catalogue of Trojan allies, Halizones from Alybe were instead said by some to be from Chalybe, ἐκ Χαλύβης replacing ἐξ Ἀλύβης in order to connect the tribe with the iron-mining Chalybes (Strabo 12.3.20).